Another Increase in Health Premiums

The health industry’s main lobbying group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, reports that medical premiums increased 8.8% between 2004 and 2005. The lobbying group claims this is good news since the actual premium rate of growth has continued to slow from a rate of more than 13% in 2002. The increase in health premiums is reportedly most likely due to the increased use of doctor and hospital services.

The accounting firm, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, reports that just 14% of the increase had to do with administration or marketing costs or higher insurance profits. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, an average health care plan obtained through an employer in 2005 approached $11,000. The average annual cost for the worker was approximately $3,500 plus deductibles and co-pays.

Employers are currently shifting more and more of the health care costs to their employees. Studies show that employers decreased health care spending by 1.3%, while employees increased spending by 5.5%. “What we’re aware of is that health care costs,” says Judy Feder, PhD, dean of the Public Policy Institute at Georgetown University, “even when they slow down, are still outpacing peoples’ income and ability to pay.”

The trend of increasing costs of health care does not seem to be slowing down. With baby boomers now into their sixties, these costs will certainly continue to rise. Health care costs are taking a larger chunk out of everyone’s budget.

Prescription drugs price increases are outpacing the growing medical premiums by almost two-fold. Controlling drug costs is one of the simplest ways to lower overall health care spending. Using generics as often as possible, utilizing less expensive over the counter medication, and shopping around for lower prices are three quick and easy ways to lower these costs. Even small savings, done over and over, will soon add up to a significant reduction in your expenses at the pharmacy.

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