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Rising Health Care Costs: the tsunami that never ends

by Peter Stern Thursday, May. 01, 2008 at 6:57 AM
pstern@austin.rr.com

The giant wave soon will engulf us all. People just can't afford the rising costs of health care!

It's bad enough that most of us know that the health care industry is in it for the profits and it has its "claws firmly into the backs" of our congressional leaders.

It's another thing that fewer Americans can afford the ever-increasing astronomical costs.

Case in point, during the past 5 years Texas insurance premiums jumped 40 percent, which makes the state the 3rd highest in the nation.

Insurance rates have soared 10 times faster than their incomes increased!

You don't have to be Einstein to calculate what that may do to our economy and to people's lives.

According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, its studies show that:

"The findings show:

o Fewer employees are working in private-sector jobs that offer insurance.

Nationally, 4.1 million fewer people worked in private-sector jobs that offered health insurance in 2005 than in 2001.

o Fewer private-sector businesses offer coverage.

The number of private-sector employers nationwide who offered health insurance benefits to their employees fell by 30,000 from 2001 to 2005.

o Fewer people have private health insurance coverage.

Americans with private health insurance fell nearly 2.4 million, or 6 percent, from 2001 to 2005.

o More people are uninsured.

According to the latest Census figures, 47 million Americans do not have any health insurance."



It is interesting and disturbing to note that neither state nor federal legislators are moving forward quickly to resolve and/or de-escalate the trend.

In a short period of time without any substantial relief, the trend will cause more Americans to cancel their insurance plans and thus will cause even higher premiums for those few who can hold onto them.

Eventually, the health care industry will have to "bite the bullet" and recognize that the industry can NOT continue to "bleed" the people they are supposed to help.

The health care plans frequently also cut the medications from the current plan entirely or place them on some other tier group.

Another case in point: Thanks to 2007 Congressional action and approval, United HealthCare of Texas placed 10 categories of medication on a never before done "Bonus Formulary List".

What that does is make such medications as Levitra impossible or more difficult for members to get without a higher out-of-pocket expense.

In addition, again for Levitra and other meds, beginning in 2007 United HealthCare reduced in half the quantity of pills yet kept the same out-of-pocket expense.

When questioned by myself regarding these issues, representatives for United HealthCare stated that they were permitted to do so under the current laws approved by Congress.

Even though such actions may be considered legal under the federal laws, they are inappropriate and counter-productive to our health care system.

How long can health care plans continue to "milk" their members?

Evidently as long as our Congress permits them to.

----



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