Major national news outlets including network news gave substantial coverage to a Kaiser Family Foundation report on health insurance coverage and costs. The reports emphasized the higher rates and reduced coverage with one outlet noting that family insurance now costs more on average than a small car. Many also noted the report’s conclusion that the Affordable care act was responsible for a small amount (2 percent) of the increase in rates.
NBC Nightly News reported, “a crippling trend in America,” adding “it comes down to the choice…between your money or your health.” NBC (Yang) said, “At the same time insurance is covering less. Employers say rising insurance costs forced them to choose between providing good benefits or hiring new workers or giving raises.” The authors of the Kaiser Family Foundation survey “say it’s too early to tell what will happen in 2014, which is when the key elements of President Obama’s healthcare reform take effect.”
ABC World News reported, “The Kaiser survey finds that over the past ten years, health insurance premiums are up 113% while wages have increased only 34%.”
The CBS Evening News reported, “While the value of homes has been falling, the cost of healthcare has been rising. A report on health insurance costs today says the average annual family premium is $15,073. That’s up 9% from last year. Employers generally pick up the majority of the costs.”
The New York Times reports on its front page that the Kaiser survey results are “creating more uncertainty for the Obama administration and employers who are struggling to drive down an unrelenting rise in medical costs.” Partly that’s because “Kaiser estimates that one to two percentage points of the increase this year is related to provisions of the law already in effect,” and partly because, “many businesses cite the cost of coverage as a factor in their decision not to hire, and health insurance has become increasingly unaffordable for more Americans.”
The Washington Post reports on its front page that the Tuesday release of a Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Educational Trust annual survey highlighted “premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance continued to escalate this year even as the share of workers getting less generous coverage reached a new high.” Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser foundation said, “Without any real national discussion or debate, there’s a quiet revolution going on in what we call health insurance in this country. Health insurance is becoming less and less comprehensive.” Though roughly half of Americans “are covered by an employer sponsored health plan,” yet “nearly 70 percent report being worried about having to pay more for healthcare or health insurance. Almost a third are ‘very worried.’”
McClatchy notes that Kaiser President Altman is uncertain if the sharp premium increases are temporary or part of a larger trend. “Karen Ignagni, the president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, said the increasing cost of medical care was the main culprit behind the rate increases.” Also “insurers may have set rates higher this year thinking that the Affordable Care Act would increase their costs.”
The Los Angeles Times reports, “The price of health insurance provided by employers for families jumped 9% this year over 2010 as rising healthcare expenses contributed to the largest premium increases in six years.” In response, “companies and workers are increasingly turning to high-deductible policies that require workers to pay more out of their pockets for medical care.”
The Wall Street Journal says that with many employers and employees turning to higher deductible plans, the sharp growth in premium prices seems counter-intuitive, though other industry experts emphasize that the remaining pool of candidates tends to be older and more likely to draw on the insurance.
USA Today reports, “As Congress works to decrease the federal deficit by cutting health care programs such as Medicare, policy experts say health providers will have to find money elsewhere, which could force insurance premiums higher for most Americans.”
Bloomberg News reports, “The average cost of a family policy climbed 9 percent in 2011 to $15,073, according to” the Kaiser Foundation’s “poll of 2,088 private companies and state and local government agencies.” It also found that “the average price of a family plan has risen 113 percent since 2001.” White House Deputy Chief of Staff Nancy-Ann DeParle’s blog posting is cited saying that “premium increases aren’t the result of the health overhaul,” but instead are due partly to “insurers [having] overestimated the new law’s effect and the gain in health-care spending this year.”
The Financial Times says that the increase undercuts the Administration’s argument that its healthcare reform would cut costs.
Reuters reports that Altman said, “There are a variety of factors that could have been responsible for (premium increases), but the major reason is not the healthcare reform.”
Modern Healthcare reports, “The only factor among many possible drivers to the latest premium increase that the survey authors were able to quantify were two provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that went into effect last year: a requirement for plans to offer coverage to the young adult offspring of their enrollees and mandated coverage of preventive care. Those provisions composed up to 2 percentage points of the 9% increase, the authors found in a separate analysis.”
The National Journal/Kaiser Health News reports premiums have grown by “triple the growth seen in 2010.” And “the White House quickly weighed in, accusing private health insurance companies of reaping profits based on forecasts of rising costs that didn’t turn out to be accurate.” While, “many factors drive premium growth, the main one [is] actual spending on medical care.”
Politico reports, “Premiums for employer-provided health insurance jumped 8-9 percent in 2011, passing $15,000 for family coverage – which is more than the cost of a Ford Fiesta.”
From the American Association for Justice news release.