Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dispelling the Myths of Health Care Reform: Costs

Myth: Health care reform will cost the individuals more money.

Our current health care system already costs individuals far too much money.
  • The cost of premiums for Pennsylvanians has risen 103% since 2000.
  • Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have nearly doubled since 2000, a rate three times faster than wages.
  • Last year, the average premium for a family plan purchased through an employer in Pennsylvania was $13,646, nearly the annual earnings of a full-time minimum wage job.

Health reform will make the system more affordable so everyone can enjoy coverage. Currently some individuals have good coverage, including preventative and diagnostic care, while others who are uninsured obtain their care in the emergency room.

In Pennsylvania, uninsured individuals cost providers over $2.4 million in bad debt, which is passed along to employers, families, and individuals with health care in the form of a hidden heath tax. Private health insurance premiums are higher, at least in part, because uninsured people who receive health care often cannot afford to pay the full amount themselves. To make up for uncompensated care costs, doctors and hospitals charge insurers more for the services provided to patients who do have health coverage.

The costs that are shifted to insurers are passed on in the form of higher premiums to consumers and businesses that purchase health care. If health care was more affordable, each individual would be contributing to the cost of his or her care, instead of passing the costs along.

Other ways reform will save individuals money is by:
  • Placing yearly caps on how much insurance companies can charge for out of pocket expenses
  • Providing tax credits to pay health care premiums for over a million eligible middle class Pennsylvanians to purchase affordable insurance.
  • Prohibiting insurance companies from charging more based on gender. Women are often charged higher premiums than men during their reproductive years; for instance, a 22 year old woman can be charged one and a half times the premium of a 22 year old man.
  • Preventing insurance companies from placing annual or lifetime caps on coverage
  • Providing tax credits and a health insurance exchange to make health care affordable for small businesses
The health reform proposed will not “bust the budget,” as some are saying. The reform will be paid for by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse, ending large subsidies to insurance companies, and increasing efficiency through coordinating care and streamlining paperwork.

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