Talk is building about the excesses of the health insurance industry in the U.S. In the last year, while the rest of the economy is faltering, the brains behind the private health insurance industry in the U.S. have found a way to make their profits grow. Under the cover of the government’s newly instituted Health Savings Accounts (HSA) the insurance industry has quietly been increasing the “deductible” levels of their policies. If you own an HSA you will wind up paying a much greater amount of your own money toward medical services before the insurance company pays a penny. In many instances this means the owner of a health insurance policy must pay up to $3000 or more in a year above the premium (yearly cost of owning the insurance policy) before the insurance company has to pay anything toward medical claims. Insurance policies with an HSA provision are supposedly cheaper to carry due to a lower yearly premium, but when family insurance premiums can routinely cost between $1000 to $1500 per month even with an HSA, the premium savings don’t add up to much.
The increased amount families and individuals are paying out of pocket as deductibles along with the higher premiums they pay to own their insurance policy is only part of the profit story. The largest health insurance plans have also negotiated lower and lower payments to their physician panels. In some cases they are managing to pay doctors only 60% of the customary payment allowed by medicare.
While the rest of the country is having a harder time making ends meet, the insurance companies are finding a “sweet spot” by generating higher revenue from those they insure while making lower payments to the service providers. As the middle men in this equation they are quietly reaping greater and greater profits. Wall Street may be suprised when these companies inevitably come under the glare of public scrutiny and questions begin to be asked by the new government about where all these profits are coming from. Can it be the same old story of corporate greed? Only time will tell.
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