• Fast growing HDHP enrollment

    HDHPs’ share of private health insurance policies increased from 25.3% in 2010 to 29.1% in the first three months of 2011.

    According to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, health plan enrollment in high deductible health plans has been growing at about 15% a year for the past four years. In New Hampshire, HDHPs appear to be growing even faster, and now a HDHPs are the standard individual policies in the Granite State. 51.9% of enrollments in non-employer sponsored health plans for the first time were in HDHPs – for the first time, over 50%.

    This is a normal course of action to mitigate a never ending escalating of health insurance premiums.  Thus to bend the premium cost curve employers are passing more of the costs and responsibility to employees.

    Healthcare cost transparency is essential in aiding people in making wise choices when seeking healthcare services.  Presently there are very few tools that can meaningful help consumers shop their care —

    “There was limited growth in the tools designed to inform and empower consumers, such as web sites reporting hospital and physician price and quality information”  (The Center for Studying Health System Change Issue Brief May 2011).

    In 2007, 12.9% of persons in private health insurance were in HDHPs without a health savings account, while 4.5% where with a health savings account in an HDHP (also called CDHP).  The combined HDHP share of persons in private insurance was 17.4%.  The combined figure of 29.1% in 2011 represents a 67% increase in just four years. That’s roughly 15% annual growth.

    These figures include both employer-sponsored and non-employer sponsored plans.   In 2011,

    A HDHP is defined by the federal government as greater than $1,200 per year for a single person or more than $2,400 for a family. Tax sheltered Health Savings Accounts are tax advantaged in 2011 for up to $3,050 for single coverage and $6,150 for family coverage.

    Source of most of this data:  Centers for Disease Control,  Health Insurance Coverage: Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, January–March 2011 by Robin A. Cohen, Ph.D., and Michael E, Martinez, M.P.H., M.H.S.A. Division of Health Interview Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics

    0 comment January 27, 2012

  • Kaiser Foundation survey of health plans, 2011

    Its annual Employer Health Benefits Survey is just out.  Key findings tend to conform to those of other surveys.

    Premiums in 2011 for single and family coverage in 2011 are $5,429  and $15,073, respectively, amounting to 8% and 9% increases over 2010.

    Premiums increased significantly faster than workers’ wages (2.1%) and general inflation (3.2%).  Since 2001, family premiums have increased 113%, compared with 34% for workers’ wages and 27% for inflation.

    Workers contribute 18% (single) and 28% (family) of premium costs, shares which were unchanged from 2010.  In dollars, that amounts to $921 and $4,129.

    The average deductible for a single enrollee in a PPO plan is $675; for a high deductible health plan (HDHP) with a savings option, $1,908.

    The rise of HDHPs is steep.  The share of employers offering HDHPs rose to 23% from 15% in 2010. 17% of workers are enrolled in a HDHP, up from 13% in 2010 and 8% in 2009.

    Just looking at single person plan deductibles of at least $1,000, the percentage of single coverage workers with at least this deductible rose from 10% in 2006 to 31% in 2011.  Twelve percent of single coverage workers had deductibles of at least $2,000.

    0 comment September 27, 2011

  • How healthcare costs in New Hampshire have risen

    The New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies published earlier in 2011 an analysis of healthcare costs in the state entitled Health Care 101: Health Care Finance in New Hampshire. The study was funded by the Endowment for Health.

    The evidence portrayed in this study proves that the Certificate of Need (CON) process hasn’t done much to improve the cost of healthcare whether you are an individual or a family.

    New Hampshire, I believe, is a prime example of the ills of healthcare today. New Hampshire healthcare is primarily hospital driven, with little competition between healthcare providers.  Lack of competition and the lack of checks and balances allow the healthcare system in New Hampshire to be devoid of all laws of economics that promote higher quality and lower costs.

    The good news in New Hampshire is that the employers are still allowed to offer health insurance through cost sharing with employees.

    Based upon this study, the financial burden will cripple businesses and families because of the inflation of healthcare costs.

    Here are some figures in the study:

    Average family health insurance premiums rose from about $7,500 in 2000 to about $13,750 in 2009 and trend about $1,000 more than the national average.

    Healthcare spending: In 2000, total personal healthcare spending (all payers) totaled $5.2 billion. In 2011, it is expected to be $10.4 billion and in 2018 $16.4 billion. That’s something like a 15% plus increase a year.

    In 2000, personal healthcare spending was 11.7% of the Gross State Product. In 2011 it is expected to rise to 16.4% and in 2018 to 19.6%.

    Burden of insurance on household income:  the average family health insurance premium as % of mean family income in New Hampshire was 10.2% in 2000 and 15.4% in 2009. By county, the ratio ranged from 12.8% in Rockingham County to 22% in Coos County.

    Hospital capital spending: between 2000 and 2011, New Hampshire hospitals are forecasted to spend $1.36 billion in construction projects. (The Valley News reported that between 1980 and 2000, the average annual cost of hospital construction approved by the state was $49 million. But since 2000, that average has ballooned to $113 million.)

    Employer-based coverage: Of 578,000 private sector employees, 307,000 enrolled in their employer’s health plan. These included 67% of all full-time employees and 8% of all part-time employees.  Only 10% of private sector employees work for employers that do not offer health insurance to any employee.


    1 comment September 27, 2011