Health Care Premiums on the Rise

Healthcare, Insurance
on March 21, 2013

Saving money is important to all of us, and there is perhaps no area we desire these savings more than in the arena of health care. Health care costs are not only exorbitant in the United States; they are also rising. Recent laws passed by Congress will cause even greater increases in health care costs, in particular rises in premium rates.

According to many of the United States’ biggest health insurance companies, health care premiums are expected to rise drastically over the next year. For some individuals, health care bills may even double.

This “premium rate shock,” as dubbed by Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, is in a large part due to changes in health care laws made by the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.” Adjustments to laws concerning premium rates based on age and gender, new taxes, and laws requiring health insurers to pay larger portions of patients’ bills all will contribute to rising premium costs.

The 14 million Americans with individual, rather than employer-based, health care plans will especially be hit hard. This will in particular impact the self-employed, who have little to no access to group plans.

Price hikes will disproportionately affect other groups as well. Young people will begin to bear more of the burden caused by high senior citizen health care costs. Previously younger adults paid one fifth of the amount paid by seniors; now, however, they are likely to pay one third of the senior rate.

Men will suffer rate increases as well. While in the past women paid higher premiums because they used more health care, new laws will prohibit this practice, making a rise in men’s premiums necessary to make up the lost revenue.

New laws requiring individual health plans to provide maternity coverage will also raise premium costs, as all individually insured people will have to pay the price for this increase in coverage regardless of their need for it.

While President Obama and other proponents of the Affordable Care Act claim that other provisions in the law will counteract these price hikes, others aren’t so sure. Some experts believe that Obamacare will encourage competition among insurance companies, leading to lower premiums. Others, however, say that this prediction assumes that there isn’t already such competition, which they say is simply not true.

As health insurance premiums rise, saving money may become more difficult. It’s unclear to what extent the Affordable Care Act will impact health care costs, but many health care experts say that all indicators point to new strains on our wallets.

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