Insurers seeking big hike in rates | June 2
U.S. pays a lot for poor results
Data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show that health insurance companies are seeking premium rate increases for 2016, some as high as 85 percent. Much of this will be in the 37 states using HealthCare.gov as their exchange under Affordable Care Act. The insurance companies' rationale is that they are asking for higher premiums because they remain unsure about the future and what their medical costs will be.
The prices that hospitals charge customers for many common procedures increased by more than 10 percent between 2011 and 2013, which is more than double the rate of inflation, while the amounts paid by Medicare have stayed flat. These rising prices mainly affect the uninsured and people who use hospitals outside their insurance network. Florida has many such uninsured people.
A National Academy of Sciences study released in 2003 showed that although United States was among the wealthiest nations in the world, it was far from the healthiest. U.S. GDP spent on health care has been rising, and according to a 2014 report based on a study by Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, it reached 17.7 percent. This was the highest among 11 developed nations used in the study.
So people of this wealthy and powerful country are left to spend a large portion of their hard-earned income on health care, or left unable even to afford insurance, and are still unhealthy.
Alex Mathew, Tampa
The numbers game
For months, the Times has been telling us that there are 800,000 Floridians in the "gap" who need government-funded health insurance. Then, without any explanation, the number changes to "385,000 uninsured residents" in a Tuesday article on Medicaid expansion. And, in Wednesday's paper, the number jumps back to 800,000, even though a state economist says in the same article the number of residents who would be covered is 650,000.
Confusing, to say the least. I would expect the Times to explain why those numbers are fluctuating. Or maybe we just need to do what the Democrats did in Washington with Obamacare and just pass the bill to know what's in the bill.
Maureen Ahern, St. Petersburg
Emergency room use
A recent letter writer brought up the accurate point that since hospital emergency rooms are forced to treat people without insurance, this cost is passed on to the public. However, turning this into an argument for expanding Medicaid is mistaken. Studies in states that have gone along with Medicaid expansion show that visits to emergency rooms have stayed the same or even increased.
It's easy to understand why. There are fewer doctors doing basic care anymore. And the ones who do are less likely to accept Medicaid patients because of the bureaucratic hassle and low reimbursements for the medical care provided.
Eric Greenbaum, Tampa
Bush sets date to run | June 4
Raking in millions
I'm sure Jeb Bush is "thankful for the support and encouragement he has received from so many Americans" during the nearly six months he was "actively" exploring the idea of running for president.
I'm also sure that he is thankful for the nonreportable millions of dollars raised from his super PAC and other supporters as he was pondering his course of action. While the manner in which these funds was raised may have complied with the letter of the law, it certainly violated its spirit and intent.
Jan Milner, Brandon