The Obama administration reported that high premium increases of up to 39 percent threatened to block medical care for greater numbers of Americans. Fortunately, increases proposed by Anthem Blue Cross of California were postponed due to criticism. Still, California officials say 700,000 households face increases soaring as high as 39 percent, and averaging 25 percent overall in premium increases.
The Health and Human Services Department said similar premium increases are threatening at least six other states despite robust profit growth for the companies boosted by a lack of competition in most states.
Congressional health care legislation is largely directed at helping those most affected by soaring health insurance rate increases — individuals and small businesses. While legislation would require most of us to be protected by coverage like mandatory auto insurance does now, legislation would also provide subsidies to make premiums more affordable. Best of all, it would create a new kind of insurance supermarket for individuals and small businesses to offer them competitive plans similar to the health insurance choices that federal employees already enjoy.
Residents Lose Jobs and Health Insurance in California
CNN reported that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal emergency at the end of 2008, and called for fast legislative action to manage the state’s multi-billion dollar shortfall in revenue.
In 2009, the Governor begin the process of laying off state employees, and issued 20,000 notices to employees with the least seniority when California lawmakers failed to pass a compromise plan to deal with the revenue shortfall.
Likewise, Boeing originally estimated that it would make 10,000 job cuts for 2009. Late last year, it announced it would exceed that goal of 10,000 job cuts during 2010.
When at least 50 initial unemployment claims are filed against an establishment during five consecutive weeks, it’s called a mass layoff. Californians lost more jobs than any other state due to mass layoffs, with 54,150 employees losing their jobs in January of 2009.
California was followed by New York (which lost 31,890 jobs), Pennsylvania (which lost 29,660 jobs), and Ohio (which lost 27,970 jobs), according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Health Insurance for California Has Less Expensive Options
To deal with catastrophic medical costs, many healthy people just give up health insurance completely, or switch to bare-minimum policies so they can afford monthly premiums. Called “catastrophic” plans, these high-deductible health plans typically offer protection from major medical expenses incurred as a result of severe illness or injury.
People are switching to these types of plans because such plans typically have lower monthly premiums. That’s because the insurance companies do not have to pay for the small, frequent charges they cover in other policies. These high-deductible health insurance plans can include a maximum limit on your out-of-pocket medical expenses, and that includes the deductible.
High-Deductible Health Insurance may even provide preventive care without a deductible, or with a deductible that is less than the minimum annual deductible for other products or services. Preventive care benefits can include annual exams, immunizations, prenatal and well child care, stop-smoking programs, and weight-loss programs.
These plans offer preventive care to reduce your risk of catastrophic medical fees for major illnesses while charging lower premiums. Some of these plans can also be combined with a health savings account, also known as a HSA. These savings accounts earn tax-free interest, like individual retirement accounts, and include other tax advantages. Contributions to a HSA are tax-deductible, and withdrawals from a HSA to pay for qualified medical expenses are tax-free.
Understanding the different types of benefits you can find in various forms of health insurance can help you decide how to deal with our medical care crisis.