Family Health Insurance
While the economy is not doing so great at the moment, you could not say the same for the health care industry. The health care industry is booming thanks to an increasing aging population, and it can be tough for one to find cheap health plans. If you are like me, then you are likely to be looking for a cheap health plan or at the very least, look to decrease the amount you are paying for any existing healthcare plans you might have.
There are namely two ways to go about doing so. The first step is to review any existing health care plans you are currently under. If you are subscribed to an individual health plan, you may consider switching over to a group policy. If not, you can always try out family health care plans. Not only will the payments be lesser, but it will provide a greater coverage to all your family members, including yourself. You can also look at policies with a higher deductible. Deductible is the portion of any claim that is not covered by the insurance provider. Simply put, it is the amount of expenses that must be paid out of your pocket before an insurer will cover any expenses. This will reduce the monthly amount you need to pay, but it carries a higher risk as the coverage is lesser.
The other step is to search the internet marketplace for cheap healthcare plans. Different healthcare providers provide different policies and each specialize in different niches. A certain vendor might be able to provide cheap family health insurance plans, whereas another can give you the best deal for cheap individual health insurance plans. Ultimately it will depend on what policy you are looking for. Now, searching the whole marketplace for deals can be a tough thing to do. Thankfully though, there are online comparison sites which aggregate all the providers’ policies, to make your search for cheap health plans a lot easie
Annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage across the U.S. increased by nine percent this year, to $15,073, according to a survey released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust.
On average, workers pay $4,129 and their employers pay $10,944, the survey found. The premiums rose faster than workers’ wages and general inflation in the same period, Kaiser officials said.
“This year’s nine percent increase in premiums is especially painful for workers and employers struggling through a weak recovery,’’ said Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Foundation.
The survey also estimates that employers added 2.3 million young adults to their parents’ health insurance plans as a result of federal health care reform, which allows people up to age 26 without employer coverage to be covered as dependents on their parents’ plan.
Those findings surpass a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a Gallup poll, which each estimated that the that $1 million young adults had joined their parents’ plans since last year.
“The law is helping millions of young adults to obtain health coverage. In the past, many of these young adults would have lost coverage when they left home or graduated college,’’ said Gary Claxton, lead author of the 2011 Kaiser Employer Health Benefits Survey.
A C-HIT analysis in June found that Connecticut’s private employers have seen the price of health insurance premiums for workers and their families rise 102 percent since 1999. Using 2009 data, it found that families and their employers paid $14,884 in the New Haven/Milford area and $14,251 in the Hartford, West Hartford and East Hartford area.
In its 13th year, the national survey was sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Education Trust. It was conducted between January and May of 2011 and included full responses from 2,088 non-federal public and private firms and partial responses from 1,096 employers.
The foundation, based in Menlo Park, Calif., conducts independent analysis on health policy issues. The trust is a Chicago-based affiliate of the American Hospital Association that collaborates with government, academic and health care agencies in researching health care initiatives.
Family health insurance premiums surged 9% in 2011 according to new data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. That’s the fastest health insurance inflation since 2005.
Insurance premiums thus outpaced both general inflation and worker earnings growth by a wide margin.
That scary spike raises an obvious question: Is health insurance more expensive because of the health reform enacted last year?
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Kaiser crunched the numbers and says yes, but only modestly:
The two provisions in the Affordable Care Act likely to have the greatest effect on the premiums for employer-sponsored health coverage in 2011 are allowing children up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ plans and requiring plans that are not grandfathered to provide preventive services with no patient cost-sharing. Our analysis, based in part on estimates provided by federal agencies when regulations implementing these provisions were issued, suggests that these provisions are responsible for 1-2 percentage points of the 9% increase in family premiums in 2011. (emphasis added)
Stripping out those two specific ACA effects, premiums would still have increased by 7-8% according to Kaiser’s estimates.
But that isn’t the end of the story. A remaining question is whether other aspects of the ACA might also have contributed to the premium increase. Kaiser argues, plausibly, that the two factors it considered were the most direct link between the ACA and 2011 premiums. But perhaps there were indirect links as well?
I expect we will hear critics of the ACA make exactly that argument in the days ahead. Somewhat surprisingly, though, the first example I found came from the Administration. Writing on the White House blog, health adviser and deputy chief of staff Nancy-Ann DeParle pins some of the blame for higher premiums on insurance companies overestimating what their costs would be:
[2011 health insurance] premiums were generally set in 2010, when insurance companies thought medical costs would be significantly higher than they turned out to be. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the health insurance employer cost index (a measure of the price of health care services) was the lowest it has been in over 10 years in the first half of 2011. Additionally, some insurers assumed that the Affordable Care Act would dramatically raise their costs. In the end, both assumptions were wrong – but insurance companies still charged high premiums and earned impressive profits. Wall Street analysts’ review of results from the first quarter of 2011 found that 13 of the top 14 health insurers exceeded their earnings expectations, with profits that were over 45 percent higher than estimated. (emphasis added)
DeParle thus believes that the ACA did lead to higher premiums in 2011–beyond what can be explained by direct cost increases–but only because insurers overreacted. In other words, the ACA did cause premium increases beyond what can be explained by costs (since insurers would not have made the mistake about ACA costs otherwise), but the ACA doesn’t deserve the blame for those premium increases.
Without any numbers, we don’t know, of course, how much such misestimates might have contributed to the 7-8% rise that isn’t explained by the direct effects of ACA. Any such mistakes will, one hopes, be corrected in setting 2012 premiums. If so, that would soften health insurance inflation in 2012.