Discouraging Health Insurance Data From Recent Report

Posted on: December 26th, 2012 by SamTabes No Comments

A recent Commonwealth Fund report from this week compares health insurance costs from 2003 to 2011 and the results are concerning since it recognizes a trend that could cause costs to soar out of control if something isn’t done sooner than later.  The Affordable Care Act has been put in place to help slow down this trend but there has been so much debate over the health care law that many people wonder if it will ever fully be implemented.  According to this report from the Commonwealth fund, prices could skyrocket if the law isn’t implemented in the recommended time frame.

The press release found on SFGate.com talks about some of the details from the report that has experts concerned about the continuous health insurance cost trends.  Employers premiums increased an astonishing 62% from 2003 through 2011 making costs upwards of $17,000.  It is estimated that costs could increase to upwards of $24,000 in the next decade.  Deductibles that employers and employees are paying are up 117% during this time frame which seems simply unsustainable.  Costs are going up while benefits are going down causing more out of pocket costs for consumers.

The president of the Commonwealth Fund, Karen Davis, points out that the Affordable Care Act could derail this trend and end up saving many consumers from financial disaster if they are in a health care catastrophe.  Premium costs are rising much faster among middle to low income families who feel this impact more than anyone.  It’s counterproductive to the end goal of ensuring everyone has health insurance.  The individual mandate put forth in the Affordable Care Act is an example of how the plan will help spread out costs and hopefully bring them down over time.  At the very least it should slow down the rate at which costs are increasing.  It’s scary to think how expensive health care and health insurance could become over time.

According to Lisa Zamosky’s article on WebMD, The National Business Group on Health reports that most employers say they will be raising the cost of premiums employees pay by around 5% in 2013.  This is a cost increase many are not prepared for, especially since many employers are also withholding raises and bonuses during these tough times.  Over half of employers plan to offer high-deductible plans as an option paired with a health savings account for investing money tax-free.  About 19% of employers say a high-deductible plan will be the only option available to employees which is up dramatically from 2009 when only 7% of employers did this.

Fortunately, almost 80% of larger employers will be offering price transparency tools which will allow employees to search for and compare medical costs side by side to help them make the best choice when facing tough medical decisions.  In addition to this, employers are focusing on wellness to help control rising health care costs.  With the obesity epidemic contributing to heart disease and diabetes, many believe this is causing skyrocketing health care prices.  By encouraging fitness and healthy eating habits, employers can offer discounts to participants with the hope that overall health care costs will go down over time.  Hopefully consumers take advantage of these incentives and costs really do stop this fast upward trend.  Until then, do your homework and take the time to shop around for multiple health insurance quotes so you can be confident you are getting the best deal you can.

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