Another Obamacare fix

Discussion in 'Healthcare/Insurance/Govt Healthcare' started by Spoonman, Sep 3, 2010.

  1. Spoonman
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    Spoonman Gold Member

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    Face it. Obamacare has screwed us. He shoved a shit plan down our throats that did nothing. But now we have national healthcare so this is what we will be stuck with. No politician will feel the need to touch it. But there is no reform, only more entitlement. In the process the average American will get screwed. Costs are not contained, Insurance companies and Pharmaceutical companies are not controlled. Medicare and Medicade are not fixed. You and I will pay for the runaway costs. And here they come.

    Workers bear larger share of health premium costs

    INDIANAPOLIS – Workers are paying a larger portion of their health insurance costs as businesses shift more of the burden to their employees to help ride out the economic downturn, an annual study shows.

    The average employee contribution toward premiums for family coverage climbed 14 percent this year to nearly $4,000, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust released Thursday. Contributions for single coverage grew 15 percent. But total premiums — the amount split by the employer and employee — rose a modest 3 percent for family coverage and 5 percent for single employees this year.

    Companies that offer benefits still pay at least 70 percent of the total premium, on average, for their workers. But this year, companies passed most of the premium increases on to employees instead of absorbing them as they usually do, something researchers had not seen before, Kaiser CEO Drew Altman said.

    "It just speaks to the depths of the recession and the pressure that employers have been under to hold the line on costs while, I think, trying as best they can to avoid layoffs," he said.

    Instead of simply working rising coverage costs into their budgets, companies are finding new ways to push more of the financial burden on employees and trying to make them think more about what they're spending for care, said Paul Fronstin, director of the health research program for the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute.

    "There's lots of trade-offs employers can make to maintain health benefits when costs are going up," said Fronstin, who wasn't involved in the Kaiser study.

    For instance, a growing number of workers are covered by health insurance that requires them to pay a deductible of $1,000 or more before most coverage starts. The Kaiser study found the most striking increase among small companies, where 46 percent of workers are enrolled in these high-deductible plans, up from 16 percent in 2006.

    Some companies also are trying to steer employees toward preventive care, in an effort to cut long-term costs. They're reducing or eliminating the price workers pay for things like primary care visits, diabetes treatments or blood pressure testing that can ward off more expensive care down the road.

    "The coverage that employees get is looking less and less like the coverage that their parents used to get," Altman said.

    Altman said premium growth may have slowed for this year's benefits, which would have been calculated in 2009, because of the recession and the possibility of health care reform. He said they've seen restrained premium hikes from insurers in the past when Congress has debated reform.

    But it didn't slow for everyone. At the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Mo., premiums for the 26 covered employees rose 18 percent last year and about 12 percent for the current benefits year, said Chief Financial Officer Jeff Walker.

    He said museum supervisors were trying focus more on educating staff about the best use of health care, and they're considering offering gym memberships as part of a wellness program.

    "I think we all know the cost for these insurance plans is going to continue to increase," he said. "This can't be a long-term solution for us."

    The nonprofit Kaiser and the research trust surveyed more than 3,000 randomly selected companies from across the country earlier this year for its annual report.
     
  2. Greenbeard
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    Greenbeard Gold Member

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    Some notes on this:

    Most conservative thought on cost containment centers on the idea of limiting the negative effects of third party payment (which, in the case of many employer-sponsored plans, is practically fourth party payment) by making consumers feel the financial weight of their plans: that generally translates into more cost sharing (e.g. higher deductibles) and removing or reducing the ability of employers to shield employees from growing health care costs (e.g. by absorbing them). So I would imagine this trend actually sits pretty well with more conservative thinkers.

    However, this development isn't a result of health reform.

    I agree to an extend on the latter but I'm curious what further restraints you'd like to see placed on the insurance industry?

    Medicare and Medicaid aren't broken. They're expensive but any insurer catering primarily to the elderly, disabled, and poor (income and health status are negatively correlated) would be expensive. Certainly they can do things better--continuing experiments with coordinated care and payment reform--which they'll be doing under this law. There are a number of experiments for making Medicare and Medicaid better programs in the new law and, perhaps even more importantly, there's a new Center for Innovation inside CMS (the agency that oversees those programs) that's empowered to roll out successful new innovations on a wider scale very quickly. The time it takes an effective innovation (i.e. something shown to have success in lowering costs or increasing quality) to go into wide use in those programs--several years at a minimum, at present--is going to fall dramatically.

    ...your article isn't about runaway costs. In fact, as the article notes, health premium costs rose relatively little (compared to other years): "But total premiums — the amount split by the employer and employee — rose a modest 3 percent for family coverage and 5 percent for single employees this year." And the news came out yesterday that per person health care spending actually fell in the first half this year, which is pretty astonishing. Of course, that's not good--it's mostly because people are forgoing care because of the current economic conditions.

    But then again, that gets at one of the key questions here: is lowering spending and slowing cost growth desirable if it results in worse health outcomes? Because I'm fairly confident that it's possible to reign costs in while maintaining (and even improving) care quality, I would say no. Many others would disagree, preferring indiscriminate spending decreases regardless of their effects on population health. These are the folks who trumpet the benefits of greater cost sharing to reduce costs or a mixture of de-regulation and high-risk pools.

    Anyway, the point of your article is the first sentence: "Workers are paying a larger portion of their health insurance costs as businesses shift more of the burden to their employees to help ride out the economic downturn, an annual study shows."

    That's not a statement about growth in health care costs or premium costs, it's a statement of the proportion of company health plans that employers pay. Shifting the burden to employees (i.e. asking them to pay more of the company health plan's costs out of wages) is just a way of cutting employee compensation, which in the current economic climate has apparently become both feasible and desirable. Believe it or not, not everything that happens in the universe (even if it's related to health) is a result of health reform. This is a result of a sputtering economy.
     
  3. Zoom-boing
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    Zoom-boing Gold Member

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    Link?
     
  4. Spoonman
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    Spoonman Gold Member

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    That's right, healthcare reform reformed nothing at all.
     
  5. Spoonman
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    Spoonman Gold Member

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    link? That's the whole article. Taken right off the front page of yahoo news
     
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  6. bromiley
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    bromiley Rookie

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    A national telephone survey finds that 58% now favor repealing ObamaCare, while 35% are opposed to repeal. Overall support for repeal is down two points from a week ago, but still higher than during the immediate aftermath of the Congressional debate. :eusa_whistle:
     
  7. Zoom-boing
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    Zoom-boing Gold Member

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    You can't print an article in its entirety, only snippets from it, and you have to link anything you quote. Board rules; read 'em and be wise. http://www.usmessageboard.com/announcements-and-feedback/48763-enforcement-of-copyright-policy.html
     

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