The nationâ€™s major health insurers are barreling into a third year of record profits, enriched in recent months by a lingering recessionary mind-set among Americans who are postponing or forgoing medical care. …
… Yet the companies continue to press for higher premiums, even though their reserve coffers are flush with profits and shareholders have been rewarded with new dividends. Many defend proposed double-digit increases in the rates they charge, citing a need for protection against any sudden uptick in demand once people have more money to spend on their health, as well as the rising price of care.
I don’t think the skin-in-the-game theory takes insurance company price gouging into account.
â€œI am noticing my patients with insurance are more interested in costs,â€ said Dr. Jim King, a family practice physician in rural Tennessee. â€œGas prices are going up, food prices are going up. They are deciding to put some of their health care off.â€ A patient might decide not to drive the 50 miles necessary to see a specialist because of the cost of gas, he said. …
… For someone like Shannon Hardin of California, whose hours at a grocery store have been erratic, there is simply no spare cash to see the doctor when she isnâ€™t feeling well or to get the $350 dental crowns she has been putting off since last year. Even with insurance, she said, â€œI canâ€™t afford to use it.â€ Delaying care could keep utilization rates for insurers low through the rest of the year, according to Charles Boorady, an analyst for Credit Suisse. â€œThe big question is whether it is going to stay weak or bounce back,â€ he said. â€œNobody knows.
The article goes on to say that people with employee benefit insurance are paying higher premiums and co-pays, and an increasing number have deductibles of $2,000 or more.
First — obviously, more “skin in the game,” or making people pay more money for their health care, does result in people passing up medical treatments they don’t need. However, it also results in their passing up medical treatments they do need.