KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Insurance Costs Continue To Surge

The cost of health insurance continues to surge, and the effect of the new health law is still unclear, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

"The national health care overhaul could have three possible impacts on insurance prices. The first is that the new law will hold down costs; the second is that it will have no effect - costs will just keep rising as they have for the past five or six decades; the third is that the law itself will drive prices even higher. Proponents say the new law hasn't had a chance to start restraining the growth in premiums. But they say the trendlines will flatten after major provisions of the law take effect in 2014. … But opponents say that the law ended up doing very little to control spending on health care. They say the overhaul is actually driving costs even higher by placing more requirements on insurers."

Nonetheless, most health care experts "agree on what is driving up the costs: expensive new technologies and drugs cause some of the increase, as does an aging and less healthy public that needs more care. The economic downturn made the problem worse: More people were uninsured and left hospitals with lots of unpaid bills for emergency room care. And insurers found that those on their plans tended to be sicker than in the past, as healthy people short of cash opted to drop their coverage for a while. But advocates for reform and those working in health care disagree about whether the new law will tackle these problems or actually make the situation worse" (Teegardin, 10/30).

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