Posts Tagged - ‘health care costs’

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Utah Health Insurance Becomes More Expensive

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Image: debaird™ under CC 3.0

Historically, health insurance coverage has been relatively cheap in Utah. A lower cost of living and frugal culture have led to that, as well as a heavily Mormon population that doesn’t smoke or drink alcohol (and is therefore less susceptible to related diseases). Unfortunately, the situation is changing.

What’s happening? A higher number of medical tests and procedures are performed in the state, in more doctor-owned for-profit clinics. The costs are then passed onto policyholders by Utah health insurance providers.

Healthcare reform has encouraged more free-spending states to look at cost-effective regions (with quality care) as role models, but that strategy may make less sense when those areas are also ramping up spending.

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Alabama Teachers To Pay More For Health Insurance

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Image: thanker212 under CC 3.0

Historically, generous health insurance plans (with premiums paid mostly or fully by the employer–in this case the school boards) have been negotiated by labor unions. Often, they were agreed to in contracts in exchange for wage concessions. It’s the bargain typically struck by public sector employees: lower salaries than they may be able to get in the private sector, but more job security and better benefits, despite rising health care costs.

However, economic struggles have meant that many states have had to resort to budget cuts. Alabama is just one of them. Teachers in the state will now have to pay a higher percentage of their healthcare costs. If the Education Trust Fund didn’t decrease the level of Alabama health insurance benefits, jobs would have to be cut.

Employees will now pay $15 a month for coverage; still affordable health insurance, but far more than the $2 they used to pay monthly. The cost of covering dependents on their policy has also gone up: it is now $177 per month, up from $134. Their co-payments for will most likely increase as well.

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Health Insurance Law Will Increase Costs

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Image: anolobb under CC 3.0

Contrary to some initial estimates, a Medicare actuary predicts that health insurance reform will actually end up increasing the cost of health care in the United States!

On the positive side, there are measures to control the cost of Medicare by cutting provider payments and a tax on employer-sponsored high-cost health insurance plans that encourages more affordable options. Unfortunately, those are outweighed by the expansion of coverage and accompanying subsidies. According to Richard S. Foster, spending will increase by 0.9% ($311 billion) by 2019 than it otherwise would have without healthcare reform.

Some may believe that the relatively small increase is worth it in order to insure up to 30 more Americans, especially for progressives who consider affordable health insurance a human right. However, the findings go against the Obama administration’s promises that costs would eventually decrease.

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Is President Obama a Symbol of Rising Health Care Costs?

Monday, March 15th, 2010

(Image: jurvetson under CC 3.0)

It’s not what you think: while his support for healthcare reform legislation certainly plays a role, it’s Obama’s own medical care that may be doing more to affect the cost of health insurance.

Apparently, the President is like millions of Americans today: receiving too many expensive tests and treatments for little health benefit. During Obama’s checkup, he received a prostate cancer screening despite it not being recommended for any age group. He also received a virtual colonoscopy, which is more expensive than traditional colonoscopies and not yet recommended at his age. Obama probably listened to his doctor, who may have chosen to perform the latter test because African-Americans are at higher risk for colon cancer. As for using the less invasive method, it may have avoided the temporary transfer of power that sedation requires (in other words, Joe Biden would’ve been President for several hours).

Experts propose several explanations for the trend:

  • Patients accustomed to fast-paced technology innovations and demanding nothing less, whether or not the new solutions are actually proven or more effective
  • Defensive medicine: doctors protecting themselves against the possibility of medical malpractice lawsuits by ordering every test possible
  • Health insurance companies pay doctors on a fee-for-service basis, encouraging them to perform more tasks to maximize their income

All of these procedures lead to more expensive health insurance rates. Certain tests also involve potentially harmful exposure to radiation, which should be minimized. If some of them could be eliminated or reduced without lowering the quality of care, the system would see a significant cost savings.  Of course, there is controversy surrounding this issue. They recommend that doctors and patients discuss screening and treatment options individually, as opposed

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