When will these double-digit increases stop?
OK, it’s June and that means it’s time for my annual rant about ever-increasing health insurance premiums.
In my state, Washington, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner just posted the proposed rate increases.
Not in Washington? Use this interactive map to find the insurance commissioner in your state and search for rate increases.
By law these requests have to be made public and open for comment. (Not that I’ve ever seen it make a difference here.)
Or use Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2019 Premium Rate Tracker tool.
Rates must be approved by the end of the summer, so customers have at least 90-days notice of premium increases.
I’m no longer shocked by the cost of healthcare and health insurance, but when I saw my premiums will go up a whopping 32.8% in 2019, I definitely gulped. For me and my husband, that means our bronze-level, high-deductible plan will cost $18,000 a year! Ouch.
If it wasn’t so painful, I would laugh, because in my previous year’s rants I complained about rate increases of 8.1%, 9.6%, 11.1% and 12.7%.
I must admit, I wasn’t expecting an increase of this magnitude.
Why the big hike for 2019?
I understand all the factors leading to double-digit rate hikes across the country.
The ongoing reasons include:
- the high cost and overuse of healthcare services;
- the high cost and overuse of prescription drugs; and
- an aging population that suffers from chronic, expensive illnesses (obesity, heart disease, diabetes, etc.).
Two new reasons for 2019 are more political. They are:
- the elimination of the personal mandate to buy health insurance; and
- fewer restrictions on buying short-term health insurance plans.
In 2018, most silver-level plans saw the largest rate hikes. This was called “silver loading.” Because federal subsidies are based on the second lowest-cost silver plan, raising premiums on these plans increased everyone’s subsidies.
In 2019, it appears my state’s insurance companies have gone back to “broad loading,” or spreading the increases across all the metal levels. Probably because they were unsure if the the department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would again allow the silver-loading tactic. (Apparently they will, but will that change my premium increase? Doubtful.)
Political games hurt the people they’re supposed to help
I get it. The Trump administration wants to weaken the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and eventually get rid of it entirely and replace it with…something?
I’ve never been a proponent of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and if you’ve read my blog from it’s inception you know why.
Related post: Alternatives to traditional health insurance
Fundamentally, it doesn’t provide a clear path to a fair, accessible, affordable and sustainable healthcare system. It simply adds more layers of bureaucracy and opportunities for profit mongering. The big players in the system know exactly how to manipulate the ACA’s convoluted rules and regulations to benefit themselves.
The ACA is life support for a dying patient.
Expanded Medicaid and generous subsidies have helped some families. But city, state and federal economies are being crushed by the weight of medical care.
And every year a little bit more of that burden is put on the rest of us through higher premiums, co-pays and deductibles.
Eventually that proverbial final straw will break the camel’s back.
What would I like to see? An end to the non-stop partisan bickering, and a bipartisan attempt to envision and outline a uniquely American healthcare system that works for everyone.
Be informed! Here are some of my favorite books on our healthcare system and healthcare reform: