Testing the Tensile Strength of our finances

It seems that health plans are really trying to test the limits of consumer finances. A report released last month from Health Affairs tells how consumers are getting hosed from both directions …. but the moral of the story is, it’s still better to buy coverage through a group, than as an individual.

Here are the key points:

  • Between 2003 to 2006, premiums for Small Businesses increased by 53 percent, while those for Individuals increased only 23 percent.

If you were strictly looking at premiums, you’d think the individual market was a good deal. Not so fast.

  • The Average Deductibles among all Small Business plans was $348. Meanwhile, for individuals, its $2,136 — six times higher!
  • Small business plans cap out-of-pocket costs at $2,000 a year. Individual plans cap it at $4,000.

It also matters whether you’re sick or healthy.

  • A patient with Asthma would spend $886 out of pocket if insured through a small business. That person would spend $2,607 if insured on their own.

Policy makers should heed the results of this study as they draft health reform legislation. To wantonly push consumers into an indivdual market where they are not getting much value for their dollar is unfair and may only lead to a need for bigger reforms later. Let’s just get it right the first time.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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