Monday, October 24, 2016

Health Care Ripoff part 1: Employees moved into high deductible plans to save Business and Insurers Money.

This is the first in a series of health care related revelations that may just explain why insurance premiums have skyrocketed. Let's take a look at employer based insurance.

As I've said before, Republicans have avoided real reform by talking about repealing the Affordable Care Act. Their replacement plan, based on free market competition, comes with all the horrors we saw before ObamaCare, but worse. It repeals minimum coverage, encouraging private insurers to game the system even more. It took them 6 years to game the exchanges.

Employer insurance deductibles. Republicans say deductibles make people think twice about frivolous doctors visits and tests. They call it "skin in the game." So along with our injury or illness,  we feel the painful cost of care too.

What started as $50 to $1000 of "skin in the game," has been transformed into another way for insurers to game the system before paying a penny to doctors or hospitals. Deductibles have gone well beyond "feeling the cost;" they've now shifted a majority of cost to patients:
While Obamacare premiums rise, employer-based health plans shift to higher deductibles ... 150 million workers get their health insurance through their employers ... the stability in premiums is a trade-off: they’re being shifted to high-deductible health plans, 

“It’s the biggest change in health care in America that we are not really debating,’’ said Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation. “It may even be more important than the ACA (Affordable Care Act) in terms of the number of people affected.’’

A survey published in September: 29% of all workers were enrolled in such high-deductible health plans in 2016, up from 20 percent in 2014. To help bear the burden, Health Savings Accounts allow workers to pay for certain medical expenses with tax-free dollars. This year 83 percent of covered workers are paying an average of $1,478.

A 2015 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research followed one company that shifted all of its employees to a high-deductible health plan and even contributed to each worker’s health savings account ... researchers found many employees were skipping important medical appointments completely, from colonoscopies to mammograms, both of which are free preventive care services under Obamacare. That’s why Sam Smith, past president of the California Association of Healthcare Underwriters, calls high-deductible plans “barriers to care,’’ because the worry over paying real-time medical bills under these plans may lead to delays in important medical care.

Hayward resident Sean Wanless, a 48-year-old CalTrans worker recently found out his six percent raise is being wiped out by an eight percent premium hike in his employer health plan that covers the single father and his 6-year-old son, Sean Jr., who racked up some serious medical bills when he recently fractured his arm on the school jungle gym.

Wanless said he’ll never skimp on getting his son care but “To be honest with you,’’ he confided, “I don’t want to go to the doctor. It just costs too much.’’
And that's called "self-rationing," and rationing no matter who does it is bad and the logical outcome of high deductible/HSA plans.

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