April 20, 2024

Bucks: Wrestling With Health Insurance Costs

Starting Sept. 1, double-digit increases in health insurance premiums for individuals and small businesses will be subject to a review and possible rejection by state and federal officials. The change is part of the new Affordable Care Act, and is meant to make sure that premium increases are justified.

What’s curious is that, according to the federal government, some states already have the authority to challenge health insurance rate increases — but rarely ever do it, partly because they lack the resources to do the necessary scrutiny. A few states, however, perhaps emboldened by the new law, are already starting to balk at premium increases, with some success.

Rhode Island, for instance, recently ruled that Blue Cross Blue Shield members who buy their own insurance should see premiums rise by no more than 1.9 percent, not the 7.9 percent the company requested.

And, according to Prescription for Change, a health care reform Web site run by Consumer’s Union, thousands of Aetna individual health plan members in Connecticut may even see their premiums drop later this year, partly as a result of the new health care law.

Proposed rate increases are getting intense scrutiny because, as a recent Times article detailed, insurance companies have been reaping record profits in recent years — in part because strapped consumers are delaying or skipping treatment. Patients may lack control over their premiums, but they feel they can hold the line on what they spend over and above that monthly payment. Some doctors say they are seeing greater cost-consciousness among patients, who are faced with paying a larger share of health costs because of higher deductibles. They’re questioning the need for routine blood work and other tests, and asking for generic drugs instead of the brand-name version.

How are you coping with higher out-of-pocket medical costs? Are you postponing care, or seeking lower-cost treatments?

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=af7b4ce18247dadfa9834a7623b7bc9f

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