Battling Rising Insurance Costs in Washington and Closer to Home

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Later this afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services is expected to release a report criticizing insurance companies for their dramatically increasing insurance premiums.

Our Washington correspondent Todd Zwillich has analyzed the report and he discusses its findings and its potential solutions for consumers.  We also speak with John Brown who owns a small business in Oklahoma.  John's been dealing with rising costs of insurance for himself and his wife and says that he doesn't know how he can afford to keep insurance in the face of steadily rising rates.

Guests:

John Brown and Todd Zwillich

Produced by:

Hsi-Chang Lin

Comments [5]

Andreea

Health..too bad you can't order it online from <a rel="follow" href="http://www.google.com">google</a> ;)

Feb. 24 2010 12:23 PM
Sean from New York City

As a health care provider and consumer of health insurance I can tell you first hand that the insurance companies are making a profit at yours and my expense. For the past 10 years the fees that the insurance companies pay me to provide health care to their clients has not gone up at all. Most have tried to decrease their payments.

But in the past 10 years what they provide and what they charge to provide it has changed drastically. It is not just the premiums that are at issue. Consider this 10 years ago most insurance companies would cover the full cost of your visit or maybe you were responsible for a small co-pay of $5-10. Today that co-pay many times averages between $25 to $50 per visit. ( so Basically you are paying for about 70-80% of your visit fee now .) Also I can not tell you how long it has been since an insurance company paid me what I have billed for the service I provide.

These insurance companies used to allow coverage to last until you were better or for a set amount of visits per year or quarter. Today most of their contracts have clauses that will cut you off when you reach 80% function. Your plan may say you have a set number of visits they will cover, but the fine print will say if it deemed medically necessary. So if you do not improve they will deny you services and if you do improve to 80% they will also cut you off. So they have basically fixed it so that most patients will get an average of between 8 to 12 visits and then you are denied care. Where as 7 years ago if your plan stated you would get 60 visits a year that's what you could expect but that is no longer the case if you have an injury or problem that requires anything past 12 or so visits.

The providers of health care have not been getting any richer over the past decade. We have been doing more for less for a long time while the insurance companies continue to consolidate and monopolize the industry to the point where it is no longer becoming viable to provide quality care. I remember the promise of managed care was that it would keep prices down and increase the quality of the services provided. I only see the reverse of that.

Our health care system used to be one of quality. What the health insurance companies have done is morphed it into a system where they make a lot of money and the providers are being forced to quit or provide volume and quantity based care to pay the bills and salaries instead of quality care since you can not run a business where every year you make less money to provide the same service.

My costs have risen across the board for the past decade. But the insurance companies have not raised the fees they pay me for services provided to you for the past decade. We have been in a recession for a long time and you are finally seeing the beginnings of the collapse of what was once the best health care system in the world due to corporate greed. And you thought the bankers were Gangsters.

Feb. 19 2010 12:34 AM
Rick Evans from P.R. of Massachusetts

The insurance companies are just doing the Obama admin's bidding. The "health insurance reform law" which is really nothing more than a 30 million new clients for my biggest campaign donors bill needs a catalyst to get the public pushing or something, anything!

The reality is at $2.2 trillion or $7300 per person we are spending double on health care what other industrial nations(OECD) spend on health care while getting no better health for it.

The insurance industry is a symptom. The insurance industry is just the parasitic bill paying service that takes "small" percentage cut from a huge pile of money.

The biggest piece of premiums is all the money spent paying for health care. One need only look at medicare and medicaid spending to see that it's spending that's out of control. Pile on state mandated coverages and it's pouring fuel on the inflation fire.

Think about it. Is erectile dysfunction really a life threatening condition that should be paid for by insurance? Why not also throw in dinner for two, wine and flowers and require it cover the obligatory 3 dates for single guys?

Feb. 18 2010 10:42 AM
Laura from Miami

Instead of raising premiums the insurances should become more efficient, we are in a recession! My insurance will cover a $40000 med for my daughter (remicade), but not a clinicaly proven, documented effective medical food treatment of $3000 that keeps her from having to take the remicade! Not a good business model.

Feb. 18 2010 09:32 AM
Linda Nagel from Brooklyn, NY

The comment by the health insurance lobbyist is misleading. It sounds as if he's saying the industry makes a 1% profit, but that's not what he said. He said that industry profits come to 1% of all healthcare costs, or words to that effect - which would include payouts by the insurance industry, Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, and private individuals. I'm sure profits are a much higher percentage of healthcare payouts by his industry. That's called lying with statistics.

Feb. 18 2010 07:47 AM

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