Concerns Over Private Health Insurance Costs ‘Drowned Out’ by Other Issues, Los Angeles Times Reports
The Los Angeles Times on Thursday examined how concerns about the increased cost of private health insurance have "been nearly drowned out in Washington by a chorus of other health care coverage concerns," such as the issue of the uninsured and a Medicare prescription drug benefit. Next year, health insurance premium rates for large employers will likely increase by 12% -- the fifth consecutive year of double-digit rate increases. The increases in health insurance premium rates have prompted many employers to shift more of the cost to employees, and as a result, many employees have opted out of employer-sponsored health plans, according to Len Nichols, a health economist at the Center for Studying Health System Change. "That's what's driving the biggest piece of the rise in the uninsured -- even more than job losses per se," Nichols said. Congressional Republicans in Congress have proposed a 10-year, $174 billion bill that would establish health savings accounts to allow individuals to save funds for health care costs, but the legislation has "almost zero chance" of passage because of the cost, according to Gary Claxton, a vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. In addition, although several Democratic presidential candidates have proposed plans that would subsidize private health insurance and reduce prescription drug costs, "their plans are being debated on the campaign trail, not in Congress," the Times reports (Zitner, Los Angeles Times, 10/17). NPR's "Day to Day" on Wednesday reported on the increased cost of private health insurance. The segment includes comments from Claxton and Joanne Spetz, a University of California-San Francisco professor and associate director of the Center for California Health Workforce Studies (Neighmond, "Day to Day," NPR, 10/15). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.