Traditional and expensive
This week I received a letter from my health insurance company. My plan’s benefits will remain the same, but the monthly premium will be 21% higher.
That means health insurance for me and my husband now officially costs more than our mortgage. And it’s just a bronze-level plan with a $7,000 deductible (each)!
I really feel for other families receiving similar letters about similar rate hikes. Some families will have to make a difficult decision—will health insurance in 2018 be just too expensive?
There are alternatives to traditional health insurance policies, and I’ve posted about them before. … Continue reading
The health care debate rages on.
Atul Gawande, one of my favorite physician-authors, wrote an article on this topic last week in The New Yorker magazine.
He spoke to residents in his home state of Ohio and posed the question, “Is health care a right or a privilege?” He listened to their stories of unexpected illness, lost jobs and medical bankruptcy. Yet none of them thought their health insurance should be free—just fair and affordable.
In our current crazy quilt system, those who do best are the very poor and the very rich. The majority of us, myself included, are … Continue reading
It’s almost that time of year when insurance companies start sending out information about next year’s plans and what may or may not have changed in their policies, such as premiums and benefits.
A little-known new rule of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will take effect on January 1, 2016, and might affect your health insurance plan and health care costs.
Specifically, this rule takes away what’s been called the “umbrella limit” on out-of-pocket maximums for families.
If you currently have a family policy with a family out-of-pocket maximum (up to $13,200 in 2015), even if only one family … Continue reading
Have you ever felt that going to see your physician or going to the hospital is like stepping onto an assembly line?
Well, the metaphor of being a car (or a hamburger) is a pretty accurate one. Two articles I read this week discuss how health care leaders have been turning to the big manufacturers—Toyota, for example—to increase efficiency, production and profits.
Kaiser Health News (KHN) puts a positive spin on this trend:
As public hospitals…try to cut costs and make patients happier, administrators have turned to an unlikely ally: Toyota. They are adapting the car maker’s production system to
… Continue reading
Two big health insurance mergers are in the works: Aetna plans to buy Humana for $33 billion, and Anthem will take over Cigna for a whopping $54.2 billion.
The number of major health insurers in the US will soon be three, down from five.
So much for more competition, huh?
What’s happening in the health care delivery system mirrors the insurance industry. The biggest health care corporations are furiously buying up smaller hospitals and physicians’ groups.
From their points of view, it makes sense: Each side believes being bigger will give them the upper hand in reimbursement negotiations (that is, … Continue reading
A picture (or a graph) is worth a thousand words.
We might be facing a physician shortage, but apparently not an administrative one. Top-heavy management is another reason health care continues to cost more and more, and physicians feel more crushed by bureaucracy and paperwork.
Related post: ICD-10 and crazy diagnosis codes
The graph is from Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), a group that supports a single-payer or “Medicare for all” health care system.
I found it through a post on KevinMD that questions whether a single-payer system will really cut down the amount of administrative … Continue reading
Two recent stories from Kaiser Health News caught my attention because they underscore the burden placed on patients to understand exactly what services their health insurance does or doesn’t cover.
Of course everyone should know their health plan’s benefits, but with so many different types of plans, and the hair-pulling-out frustrations of narrow networks, it can be really difficult. Unfortunately, the financial consequences of making a mistake are heavier than ever.
The first story tells of a … Continue reading
Here we go again!
Every May, health insurance companies file their requests for premium increases for next year’s plans.
I’ve been watching my state’s website for the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. Rate increases for all health plans—group, small business, and individual (both on and off the health exchange)—are posted for public review and comment.
The insurance commissioner has until late summer to either approve, disapprove or modify the increase. Insurance companies are required to give their subscribers a 90-day notice of any premium increases.
My insurance company is asking for a 9.6% rate hike. Our family’s premium will go … Continue reading
I was driving through Seattle the other day when a billboard caught my eye. The large multi-specialty clinic where I worked for many years, and which I still use for my primary care, was advertising something called a “12-month deferred deductible plan”.
Huh, I thought, and as soon as I got home I jumped on their website to find out more.
Acknowledging the problematic trend of high-deductible health insurance plans, the clinic created a program by which patients can extend their deductible payments over a 12-month period, rather than pay the entire amount at once.
Related post: High-deductibles … Continue reading
I read an article in the New York Post this week by a young man who was upset because he lost his student health plan and couldn’t find an affordable new health plan. His income was too low for a subsidy, so his only option under the Affordable Care Act was to sign up for Medicaid.
So there I was: A struggling grad student with no health insurance, and unable to afford unsubsidized ObamaCare plans I’d hardly, if ever, use.
But Uncle Sam was there on his white horse, ready to save my day with . . . Medicaid?
… Continue reading