Health insurance went up 7.7 percent this year, thats twice the rate of inflation. Premiums have increased by 78 percent since the year 2000 compare that to salary increases of just 20 percent and the real picture starts to have an impact.
Individuals are now averaging a little over $4000 a year in premiums with American families paying out almost $11,500 this year. Companies offering health care benefits now stands at 61 percent this is down from 69 percent in 2000. It’s estimated that over 155 million Americans will get their health care benefits from their employers. To lower the over-all cost of the insurance plans many companies are now offering benefit packages with higher deductibles. It should be noted that this report comes out after a recent Census reported that 1.3 million Americans where added to the ranks of the uninsured during 2005. What becomes clear here is the long term trend towards the decline of coverage supplied by small businesses from their employees.
“To working people and business owners, a reduction in an already very high rate of increase just means you’re still paying more” said Dr Drew Altman, president and chief executive of the Kaiser Foundation.
Insurance companies have been under attack recently for dumping families that build up large medical bills. In an ongoing case in California the state is investigating a claim against Blue Cross who stopped coverage for a family when it’s medical bills reached $20,000. The family have been left with outstanding medical bills of over $60,000. The company have accused the family of failing to disclose in their coverage application an undiagnosed lump on one of the children’s chins. The family say they (or their physician) knew nothing of any tumor when they made the application.
These types of cancellations of coverage have now created a massive backlash towards the insurance companies and resulted in a number of ongoing lawsuits. The policyholders are saying their polices were illegally terminated which resulted in substantial financial hardship. State regulators are investigating and have said they are now preparing to take action against Blue Cross.
Something needs to be done to protect (us) the public against these (insurance) companies. The hardship caused when a family is faced with these medical bills at a time when they really need the most support is nothing short of criminal. Having taken our money every month for years on end they should not have the right to terminate our coverage. They should by law be forced to honor the agreement they wrote and we agreed too.