Last week was the beginning of re-enrollment for Obamacare. Many of the insured—particularly the young and healthy millennials are going to feel the pinch as prices soar. Today at 1:30 PM I will be on Bold.Global Facebook LIVE and I will discuss the impact of premium increases on all Americans—particularly young adults. Here is a preview….
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the costs for an insurance plan through the exchanges will rise an average of 25% in 2017. The changes vary widely by state—Massachusetts will see a 1% decrease and Arizona will see a 110% increase in premiums. With many major insurers such as Aetna, Humana and United pulling out, many states are left with only one choice of premiums.
Photo Source: US Department of Health and Human Services
Millennials are particularly negatively impacted. Most people in this age group are relatively healthy. The Affordable Care Act is completely financially dependent upon the enrollment of young and healthy participants to bear the burden of the high costs of the older, sicker patients.
In a recent survey by Transamerica Center for Health Studies, seven out of ten millennials identify cost as the biggest barrier to acquiring and utilizing healthcare. Nearly 60% say that a monthly premium of 200$ is unaffordable and those that do have insurance are unlikely to use it due to the high cost of copayments and deductibles. According to the survey, 16% of millennials are not planning on purchasing health insurance in 2016. Many young adults are opting to pay a penalty rather than enroll in the ACA during the time when they are building careers, buying homes and paying off school debt. The added cost of a sub par insurance plan is something that becomes a luxury item and is often eliminated from the budget.
What is the fix?
The Affordable Care Act is imploding—just as many of us predicted years ago. Older sicker patients who are more likely to utilize healthcare at great cost have enrolled in record numbers. The young and healthy enrollees have lagged far behind predictions. Now, major insurers are leaving the exchanges after suffering hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. Many are left with only one choice of plans—taken together, all of these factors drive up cost, diminish quality and limit choice for patients.
Ultimately, our government has to make a choice—this will largely be based on the outcome of the election. We can either bail out the ACA by throwing more good money after bad or Congress can actually do their job and legislate—reform the law into a workable, more sensible healthcare plan. In order to make the law viable we must address the high cost of pharmaceuticals and demand accountability from companies who price gouge such as Mylan and CEOs such as the Martin Shkreli’s of the world. In addition, we must allow for free competition across state lines by insurers. Competition will allow consumers to actually shop and will force insurers to provide better service, better choice, AND better care all at a better price. Finally, one of the main drivers of healthcare cost is physicians who practice “defensive medicine”. Many good doctors order expensive tests in order to avoid future litigation. Until we have tort reform at the national level, healthcare costs will continue to consume a large percentage of the US GDP.
Its time for change. We must take our healthcare system back. Physicians are unhappy and many are leaving the profession to pursue other interests. We must let doctors do what they do best—interact with patients and heal. The time for change is now.
Dr Kevin Campbell, MD, FACC is chief medical correspondent for Bold.global. Dr. Campbell is an internationally recognized Cardiologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders. Dr. Campbell is the Medical Expert for WNCN and appears weekly on the CBS morning news and also makes frequent appearances nationally on Fox News, CBS, and HLN.