Consumers: How Will Health Reform Affect Insurance Premiums?Las Vegas Sun: "Like many other Las Vegas Valley residents, Yvette Williams is hoping the new national health insurance law will choke down the siphoning of money from her family's budget." The family spends $12,000 a year on health care. "Because the new national health insurance law is supposed to give consumers more ways to get insurance, it's expected to force industry giants to offer more comprehensive plans at lower prices" (Kanigher, 4/19).
The (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) Sun News: "South Carolina's largest insurers say health care reform is likely to have much more of an impact on consumers than it will on them. With a goal of covering 32 million more Americans, the new law creates insurance exchanges where consumers can shop for standardized coverage among competing companies, a measure designed to lower premiums and improve quality beginning in 2014." But, new fees on insurers will be passed on to consumers, they say.
"Bill Vaughan, a health policy analyst with Consumers Union, said the exchanges will increase competition, adding the market now is concentrated among five companies. 'In one of the Gulf states, one company is at 80-90 percent of the market,' he said. 'That's why it's important to have these [health insurance] exchanges'" (Osby, 4/18).
The New York Times: "New York's insurance system has been a working laboratory for the core provision of the new federal health care law - insurance even for those who are already sick and facing huge medical bills - and an expensive lesson in unplanned consequences. Premiums for individual and small group policies have risen so high that state officials and patients' advocates say that New York's extensive insurance safety net for people is falling apart" (Hartocollis, 4/17).
Meanwhile, in a separate article about current health costs, the Los Angeles Times reports workers at large firms may find it harder to qualify for perks. "Hundreds of thousands of Americans who get their health insurance through their employers have gotten used to company perks such as reduced-cost gym memberships, free weight-loss or smoking-cessation programs, or getting cash back for filling out health-assessment profiles. But a new survey reports that a small but growing group of firms will be imposing tougher requirements to get the incentives, such as actually losing weight or quitting smoking." Low levels of interest from employees as well as limited budget and increasing costs are driving the decisions by employers to look for results in exchange for providing these types of incentives (Kritz, 4/19).email subscription.