Arizona residents may soon be paying a whole lot more for health care under the Affordable Care Act.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona recently requested a 65 percent price increase for a 2017 Obamacare marketplace plan, which is the biggest in the state, according to Azcentral.com.
“These price hikes are due to the poorly conceived regulations that govern the health insurance exchanges,” Devon Herrick, health economist and senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), recently told Patient Daily. “Health insurers are losing money because they are required to accept all applicants without regard to pre-existing conditions.”
Such issues are arising because people are manipulating the system to avoid regular monthly health care premiums.
“Past experience has found many people game the exchange system – signing up through special enrollment periods when they need care and dropping out later,” he said.
Herrick sees these trends as a disaster ready to come to a head.
“Our health care system is about to implode under its own weight,” he said. “National health expenditures are approaching 20 percent of gross domestic product -- a figure that is expected to double over the next half century.”
Herrick explained that Obamacare didn’t start the process, but it has exacerbated a problem that started in World War II, and was further exacerbated in 1965 by Medicare and Medicaid, which he says is now draining the Treasury.
“Just look at the evidence: health care is unaffordable for most Americans,” he said. “To have any hope of affording even minor medical procedures, Americans rely on health insurance or public coverage to pay much of the cost.”
Herrick offers unsettling statistics. Approximately 88 percent of medical bills are paid for by an entity other than the patient. As a result, he explained that health insurance has also become unaffordable.
“The average employer plan costs American families $17,545 per year,” he said. “A Bronze plan from the exchange for the average middle-age family costs $12,000 per year with combined annual deductibles of $8,000 to $13,000. Provider networks are so narrow that any major procedure is surely to result in out-of-network charges that can be astronomical.”
Herrick argues that the greatest problem the health care system faces is high costs, rising at more than double the rate of consumer inflation.
“The price of newer drugs are rising so high, politicians like Hillary Clinton are calling for caps on copays,” he said. “Of course, capping copays will do nothing to lower the cost; it will merely facilitate further price increases.”
He also explained that drugs are actually the best bargain in American health care today.
“But the more egregious examples reflect a growing trend by health care industry stakeholders to jack up revenue any way they can,” Herrick said. “The strategic plan in the health care industry is to extract as much revenue as possible from third-party payers, because most consumers are both unwilling -- and unable -- to pay those exorbitant amounts unless the costs are hidden from them.”
Instead, Herrick explained that consumers are forced to pay for them indirectly.
“It’s a health care gold rush, and employers and insurers are the claims being mined,” Herrick said. “But it’s ultimately consumers who pay the price since consumers accept lower wages in return for employee health benefits, pay higher premiums for insurance and pay higher taxes to cover the cost of public programs.”