Having health insurance is necessary and unavoidable. However, the costs of health insurance in Ohio are rising, just as they are for the rest of the country. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average annual single premium in 2012 is 3% higher than the average annual single premium in 2011, and the average annual family premium in 2012 is 4% higher than the average annual family premium in last year. Experts at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington point out that many factors are responsible for this increase in medical costs. Being aware of these factors can help you protect yourself to some extent.
- Repetitive medical tests: Overtreatment and repetitive medical tests add to medical costs. Under the fee-for-service system, insurers, including Medicare, pay physicians and hospitals for every visit, test or procedure that is performed. This often results in overtreatment and repeated tests, driving up costs. It is also reported that doctors may prescribe unnecessary tests or treatment to avoid facing a medical malpractice lawsuit!
Health reform is seeking to correct this with a system of payment ‘bundling’ under which hospitals, doctors, and providers will be paid a flat rate for an episode of care rather than billing Medicare separately for each service or test or bundles of items or services. This system is expected to come into effect by January 1, 2013. Electronic medical records will also help streamline care and avoid unnecessary repeated tests.
- Unhealthy lifestyles and an aging population: Obesity, smoking, alcoholism and chronic conditions resulting from them mean an unhealthy population that demands more medical care, resulting in rising medical costs. With baby boomers, moving into retirement, Medicare spending will increase.
- Technological advancement: Health insurance Ohio is getting costly because of expensive technology. Research has resulted in expensive new drugs, services, procedures and technology. Physicians as well as their patients seem obsessed with using advanced, costly technology regardless of whether it is necessary or not. In fact, in many cases, cheaper substitutes could be available, but they are not considered because everybody wants only the ‘best’. The results? Higher treatment costs, of course!
One interesting argument put forward by Dr Willard Gaylin is that good medicine keeps people alive, even if they are chronically ill. The healthcare system has to support them too.
- Tax exemptions: It is said that the tax breaks that Ohio employers and workers get on Ohio group health insurance encourage enrollment in expensive plans with more benefits. Moreover, if office co-pays and deductibles are low, workers may be encouraged to go in for unnecessary medical tests and procedures, again contributing to rising costs. With employers seeking to shift the cost of care to their workers with high deductible plans, the growth in premiums may slow down.
- Healthcare providers and insurers charging higher prices: An increasing number of individual physicians are giving up private practice to join larger healthcare facilities. Mergers and partnerships among hospitals are allowing them to command a larger share of the market and charge more for their services. Mergers have also taken place among many Ohio health insurance companies, helping them raise premiums for various plans. The shortage of primary care physicians also leads people to rely more on specialist care which is much more expensive.
Consumers and the Rising Cost of Health Insurance Ohio
The first thing you can do is stay healthy. The right diet, regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle can minimize the need to use the healthcare system. If you do not have health insurance, enroll in an Ohio health plan as soon as possible. If you do not and fall ill or have an accident, your medical costs could be much higher than you can afford. There are various types of Ohio health insurance plans. An experienced broker can help you get an Ohio health insurance quote to suit your needs and provide you with all the help you need to enroll in the plan.