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Obamacare Sticker Shock: 5 Ways to Combat Insurance Hikes

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By    |   Friday, 28 October 2016 10:58 AM

Federal officials acknowledged this week that average health insurance premiums will rise by historic double-digit levels next year under Obamacare and that the choice will be limited to just one insurer for many Americans.

Premiums for a mid-level health plans will increase an average of 25 percent in the 39 states where the federal government now runs Obamacare online exchanges, according to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services.

But the HHS report notes wide variations in premium changes with some states seeing astronomical increases:

  • In Arizona, for instance, premiums for a 27-year-old buying a second-lowest cost silver plan will jump by 116 percent — from $196 to $422.
  • In Oklahoma, a comparable plan will increase by 69 percent.
  • In Indiana, the price for such a plan will drop by 3 percent, on average.

In addition, the number of choices consumers will have next year is dropping by more than a quarter.

The total number of HealthCare.gov insurers offering plans in 2017 will fall to 167 — down from 232. That may make it harder for Americans who must switch plans to find an insurer that includes their doctor, hospital network, or even the prescription drugs they may take for a pre-existing condition.

“Obamacare is mess,” notes Dr. Steven Klasko, a healthcare policy specialist and author of the just-published book, “We CAN Fix Healthcare – The Future is NOW.”

“Here’s what it comes down to: President [Barack] Obama decided he wanted to [expand] access to good healthcare to more people. The problem is he gave access to an inequitable inefficient system, and then hoped it would change, and the fact is it hasn’t changed. So what we’re stuck with is a lot more people, spending a lot more money, without any real incentive to change.”

Klasko – president and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health, which operates 12 hospitals – tells Newsmax the Affordable Care Act is a “free ice-cream” program that did nothing to change the U.S. healthcare system for the better.

“Whether it’s Republicans or Democrats that get elected…both parties need to come together and fix it together,” he says. “Until that happens it’s going to get even worse.”

In the meantime, Klasko says there are steps consumers can take to reduce their healthcare costs and boost their health. Among them:

Be a savvy consumer. Shop online for medication. Compare costs for doctor, hospital, and clinic services. Take the time to research what your insurance covers and doesn’t. All of these things can help you save money and get the best care possible.

Use retail clinics. Get a flu shot on your next grocery trip or drug store, or fill a prescription at Target or other retail facilities. Doing so can save you money and time waiting for a doctor appointment. “Yes, the influenza vaccine is important,” Klasko says. “Instead of waiting for a doctor's appointment, get one the next time you go past a pharmacy.”

Shop around. If you need to go for surgery or another medical procedure, ask for costs in advance and be sure your insurance covers it. It’s also a good idea to use a facility with a lot of experience. “We now know that the more a clinic or hospital does a particular surgery, the better they are,” Klasko notes. “Ask questions, look online. Make sure that wherever you go is experienced.”

Get your medical records. Patients spend millions every year requesting copies of their medical records, but they shouldn't. “The law gives you the right to see your own records,” Klasko says. “Demand a clean record without paying for hundreds of duplicative pages that are attached to each visit. You should have your own list of medications, visits, vital signs, blood tests and conditions. Use those records to think about how to take control of your own health. "

Consider telemedicine. New smartphone apps and video technology allow people to get help for minor medical issues at home, often at lower costs than seeing a doctor. Look into telemedicine services to see if they’re right for you. “Many companies and many doctors are offering consultations that can keep patients from leaving home and moving to assisted living,” Klasko notes. “Sometimes you just need a quick consultation with a doctor or nurse to avoid that long trip to an office.”


 

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With health insurance premiums soaring, a top doc details five ways to cut your health costs.
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2016-58-28
Friday, 28 October 2016 10:58 AM
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