While Congress Debates, Health Costs Continue Steep Rise
The New York Times' "Week in Review" section features a story that begins: "Suppose Congress and President Obama fail to overhaul the system now, or just tinker around the edges, or start over, as the Republicans propose. ... Then 'my health care' stays the same, right? Far from it, health policy analysts and economists of nearly every ideological persuasion agree. The unrelenting rise in medical costs is likely to wreak havoc within the system and beyond it. ... Even those families that enjoy generous insurance now are likely to see the cost of those benefits escalate. The typical price of family coverage now runs about $13,000 a year, but premiums are expected to nearly double, to $24,000, by 2020, according to the Commonwealth Fund" (Abelson, 2/26).
That's one reason California insurer Anthem Blue Cross's plan to raise some insurance premiums by up to 39 percent "caught the national spotlight" and reinvigorated the health overhaul debate, the San Bernardino (Calif.) County Sun reports. "As part of the reason for its walloping increase of up to 39 percent, Anthem Blue Cross cited both increasing expenses and a reduction of the number of young adults holding policies - which means those older customers remaining are more likely to be heavier users of health care services" (Steinberg, 2/28).
Miami Herald: "As Medicaid swells in cost and number of recipients, some Republican legislative leaders are increasingly interested in putting more of the program's patients into HMOs, giving the private companies more control over the state-federal program for the poor. ... But critics say the industry skimps on health care to maximize profits. And they're not sure about the promises of big savings. [Democratic state Sen. Nan] Rich notes that a recent consultant report for the Legislature found that the state could save about $118 million by removing HMOs as an option in the state-employee health plan -- a finding that, she says, might undercut the notion of big savings from the industry when it comes to the Medicaid program" (Caputo, 2/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.