Insurance Premiums Rise, High-Deductible Plans Increase, Health Costs Can Lead To Elder Bankruptcy
The Washington Post: "According to experts and industry insiders, recent trends suggest [health insurance] rates will continue to rise and employers will continue to shift more of the cost of health insurance onto workers - asking them to shoulder a larger share of premiums, for instance, or increasing out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles and co-pays." In a recent survey by Mercer, "employers said that they expected their health-care costs to increase between 9 and 12 percent - but that they planned to use cost-saving measures to effectively bring that increase down to 6 percent. Some 57 percent said one way they would do this would be to have their employees pay a greater share of the cost of coverage." Employers also "said they would try to lower their costs by prompting employees to improve their health," some by adding health management or wellness programs (Aizenman, 11/8).
The Desert Sun (California): "Across the Coachella Valley and nation this month, people with open enrollment periods for health benefits face double-digit increases in their health insurance premiums and difficult decisions about what to do about them. They can pay up, look for less expensive and less comprehensive options or drop coverage altogether. Consumers' frustrations and fears are made worse by the lack of clear information about what's really behind the rate hikes." Premiums are increasing, according to experts, because of "increased medical spending - more doctor visits, more prescriptions, more hospitalizations. Lower employer subsidies and the health care reform law play minor roles, they say" (Kaufmann, 11/9).
The Los Angeles Times: To save money, "Americans increasingly are turning to health insurance plans with low premiums and high deductibles - prompting doctors and health experts to worry that consumers may be skipping routine care that could head off serious ailments." A recent survey of employers showed that "the number of workers with individual deductibles of at least $1,000 has nearly tripled over the last four years," nationally, "reaching about 20 million." This month, the number of workers who enroll in high-deductible plans "is expected to rise yet again" (Helfand, 11/9).
Reuters: Health care spending "can wreck retirement security - a fact underscored by a recent study that found medical expenses are a major contributor to bankruptcy among older Americans." Research by Fidelity Investments "shows that retiree healthcare expenses this year are 4.2 percent higher than in 2009, and have jumped 56 percent since 2002. By contrast, overall consumer prices are up just 1.1 percent so far this year" (Miller, 11/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.