America’s Health Insurance Plans announced on Tuesday that according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, the rise in the cost of health insurance premiums reached its lowest level since 1999 for 2007, with premiums rising an average of 6.1%.
The PricewaterhouseCoopers’ report titled The Factors Fueling Rising Health Care Costs 2006 concluded that tiered prescription drug formularies consitute “one of the most striking reasons” prescription drug cost growth has declined in recent years. The cost of prescription drugs is one of the factors that figures into whether or not, and by how much, health insurance providers raise their premiums.
“Health insurance plans’ focus on prevention and wellness, disease management, tiered prescription drug plans and other innovative tools continue to mitigate the rising cost of medical care… Further progress is within reach if policymakers allow more flexible benefit designs; give patients and doctors information on the safety, efficacy and cost-effectiveness of prescription drugs, medical devices and procedures; and reform the broken medical liability system,” declared Karen Ignagni, President and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans.
The “broken medical liability system” and lack of “more flexible benefit designs” are seen by many critics of the U.S. health insurance system as a profound lack of market competition among health insurance providers. Market competition, they say, would do far more than anything else to get health insurance premiums back in line and make them affordable for virtually all Americans. 7
However, market competition requires a sizeable enough pool of actual and potential producers with innovative ideas to offer and implement. It then requires that consumers have the freedom to choose from different products as well as savvy shoppers who weigh the costs against the benefits of those products, weeding out the less desirable or effective through their choices in whom to do business with. And federal government’s distorted tax code which actually punishes self-employed workers or employees who choose to pay for their own health insurance premiums, subsidizing as seen in such bureaucratically top-heavy programs as Medicaid and Medicare, and heavy-handed regulatory mandates with the health insurance and health care industries utterly undo those necessary conditions, the system critics say.
What’s more, they say, many of the best doctors, and many doctors period, are leaving the profession or strictly limiting their practice and getting out of the loop of HMO referrals due to the ubiquity of frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits that are typically based on the most spurious of “evidence” but which are allowed and encouraged under current federal regulations.
America’s Health Insurance Plans (PR Newswire), “Health Insurance Premium Growth Slows for Fourth Straight Year”