Don’t blame insurance for costs

Keywords Opinion

The greatest barrier to accessing health insurance coverage is cost. Skyrocketing medical care costs are the key factor
in rising health insurance premiums that put the cost of health insurance coverage beyond the reach of millions of Americans.

I urge you, as comprehensive health care reform is considered before Congress, to realize that the best way to expand
access to health insurance is to work toward containing health care costs. America needs health insurance coverage we can
afford!

Health care costs are not expensive because of insurance; rather, insurance is expensive because of the
rising cost of medical care, and by the increased demand created by unhealthy lifestyle choices. Insurance companies are not
simply increasing premiums to increase their profits, but to cover the expanding cost of health care.

PricewaterhouseCoopers
calculated the health insurance industry’s profit at barely 3 cents per dollar. New government programs and mandates,
albeit designed to help Americans gain access to health care coverage, would significantly raise health care costs and spending
for the federal government as well as for millions of American businesses and families.

Thus, health care coverage
would be just as unaffordable as it is today.

America must turn its attention to wellness programs and improving
system inefficiencies as a starting point for making health care affordable. Nearly 50 percent of health care costs in America
are attributed to individual behaviors, such as smoking, alcohol abuse and obesity. We must establish wellness programs that
work to help us cut our unhealthy lifestyle choices. Providing incentives to strive to eat more nutritiously and be more active
and healthy will result in fewer doctor visits and medical procedures.

We also must focus on our current system’s
tendency to reward quantity—not quality—of care. Duplication of procedures and overuse of high-end procedures
in situations where they add little value just further increase costs. We need to work on increasing communications between
doctors through electronic medical record technology, establish comparative effectiveness research that helps determine when
more expensive treatments are needed, and provide incentives for doctors and medical facilities to improve system inefficiencies
and eliminate costly errors.

Health system reform and reducing costs can no longer ignore the need for balanced
and sensible medical-liability reform.

We cannot simply open doors to health care; we must strive to make sure
health care is affordable. We need to work toward containing health care costs, not just expanding health care.

_________

Susan Rider
Employee benefits account manager
Gregory & Appel Insurance

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining
{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining Article limit resets on
{{ count_down }}