“Almost four in 10 Americans — 38 percent — said that in 2022 they had put off medical care because of the cost, per Gallup. That is the highest number ever recorded since the polling firm started asking the question in 2001. Another survey, from KFF over the summer, found 28 percent had difficulty affording prescription drugs.
The truth is that insurance alone isn’t always enough to help people afford health care. The Commonwealth Fund concluded that 43 percent of Americans had been “inadequately insured” in 2022. That meant either they had been uninsured, had a gap in coverage during the year, or the insurance they had would not be adequate if they had an expensive medical emergency or diagnosis — for example, if their plan’s out-of-pocket costs could exceed 10 percent of their household income.
More than 40 percent of people said they had skipped care due to its cost, or they had trouble paying off medical bills, medical debt, or both.
It does not have to be this way. There is not one specific prescription for fixing health care. Countries have found various ways to make health insurance more affordable, standardized, and universal”
“the White House points to a 2022 report to Congress from the Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury departments, which found that not one of the 156 insurance plans and issuers studied were following rules requiring them to measure their compliance with the 2008 law.
The problem is actually quite simple, advocates of the Biden rules say.
“The insurers are cracking down on mental health reimbursement in order to save money,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).”
“Estimates vary, but the latest data from HHS indicates that more than half of adults with mental illness don’t get treatment. Treatment levels may be even lower for substance use conditions like opioid use disorder”
“The new proposed regulations, from HHS and the Treasury and Labor departments, are open for public comment until Oct. 2.
If finalized, they would mandate that insurers analyze their coverage to ensure equivalent access to mental health care based on outcomes.
The companies would have to look at how they respond to requests from doctors to authorize treatments for mental illness, compared with physical ones, as well as audit their provider networks and examine how much they reimburse providers out of network.
“This is something that you would have expected the issuers and plans to be doing as part of their own internal analysis to ensure compliance,” said JoAnn Volk, co-director of the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University.”
“Insurers say they agree that access to mental health care should be equivalent to that of physical health care.
But AHIP, the lobbying group for insurers, says the situation is more complicated than Biden makes out, and that workforce shortages are what’s behind barriers to care.
“Access to mental health has been, and continues to be, challenging primarily because of a shortage and lack of clinicians, which is why for years, health insurance providers have implemented programs and strategies to expand networks and increase access,” AHIP spokesperson Kristine Grow said in a statement.
The group said those include boosting telehealth coverage and integrating physical and mental health care. And it points to rising mental health care usage since the 2008 law as evidence that the law is working.”
“The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was created in 1968 to help homeowners in flood-prone areas afford insurance. Federal law requires that mortgaged properties in designated flood hazard areas carry flood insurance, but insurance premiums in oft-flooded areas are significantly more expensive (if they’re even offered at all). The NFIP offers federal backing for policies that private insurers would not otherwise touch or that would be too expensive for most people to afford.”
“providing insurance to an otherwise uninsurable market comes at a price: A 2011 report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that 22 percent of NFIP’s policies were issued at subsidized rates, about 40–45 percent of the cost of an unsubsidized policy. Between 2002 and 2013, the NFIP collected between $11 billion and $17 billion fewer in premiums than the market would have dictated.
As a result of charging premiums below market rate, the NFIP often runs over budget”
“The policies themselves don’t make financial sense. NFIP policy holders are not limited in how many claims they can file or how much money they can receive. As a result, more than 150,000 properties nationwide have flooded multiple times and received NFIP reimbursement each time.”
“An insurance company’s refusal to provide coverage in a high-risk area provides a disincentive to anyone who chooses to live there: When the inevitable happens, you’ll be responsible for the damage yourself.
But when the government assumes the risk on an insurer’s behalf and makes insurance cheaper than the market would dictate, it creates incentives for people to live in dangerous areas more likely to be battered by extreme weather events.
There is evidence that NFIP’s artificially cheaper policies have done exactly that. A 2018 study by Abigail Peralta of Louisiana State University and Jonathan Scott of the University of California, Berkeley, found that after a county joins NFIP, its relative population “increases by 4 to 5 percent” as residents stay in high-risk areas as opposed to moving away.”
“Two decades ago, John Stossel relayed the story of his beach house in the Hamptons, built on the edge of the water and insured for just a few hundred dollars a year through NFIP. It was fully or partially rebuilt multiple times over the years before finally getting washed away in a storm, with taxpayers footing the bill each time.
As the 2023 hurricane season gets underway, it’s high time for Congress to end the NFIP—a program that goes billions of dollars into debt providing subsidies to keep mostly wealthy people living in high-risk areas.”
“Like a good neighbor, State Farm Insurance is warning Californians to stop living and building in high wildfire-risk zones. That is the upshot of a press release in which the insurer states that the company, as a “provider of homeowners insurance in California, will cease accepting new applications including all business and personal lines property and casualty insurance, effective May 27, 2023.” State Farm is taking this step largely because the California Department of Insurance’s system of price controls does not allow it and other insurance companies to charge premiums commensurate with the potential losses they face.
Consequently, State Farm is no longer willing to sell new homeowner insurance policies because the company calculates that it cannot cover potential losses in the face of increasing wildfire risks, fast-rising rebuilding costs, and steep increases in reinsurance rates. Higher rebuilding costs boost the values of the houses and businesses that companies currently insure.”
“robust as the response was, the crisis exposed the fragility of the UI system. Technically, America’s process for handling unemployment claims was built on antiquated computer systems (some written in COBOL, a language largely abandoned in the 1980s), and millions of workers endured weeks of delays in getting their benefits.
So a major priority for Congress in 2021 has to be reforming the UI system: improving its functionality and making it more generous.”
“The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is $20.5 billion in the hole, even after Congress canceled $16 billion in debt in 2017. This financial shortfall is largely because the program does not charge nearly enough in premiums to pay for the flood damage on the properties it insures. For decades, taxpayer bailouts of the NFIP have enabled people to live and build in flood-prone areas instead of bearing the risks themselves.
In order to address this problem, the NFIP has been working on its new Risk Rating 2.0 initiative, with the aim of charging premiums that more accurately reflect the unique flooding risks of individual properties. The agency had planned to release its updated rates later this year.
Not so fast, says Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.). The senator’s office recently informed FEMA that adjusted premiums could have a “severe impact” on homeowners, and urged Congress and the Biden administration to work together toward “affordable protection” for flood-prone communities.”
“lots of beachfront dwellers in New York (and elsewhere) have been “unfairly” taking advantage of taxpayers. A recent study by the nonprofit research group First Street Foundation calculates that the average estimated annual loss for each of the 4.3 million properties most at risk of flooding is $4,419, whereas NFIP premiums average $981. In other words, their flood insurance premiums would have to increase 4.5 times over their current rates to fairly cover the flooding risks to these properties.”
“as a result of “direct government provision of subsidized insurance, private markets no longer generate price signals regarding the cost of living in severe-weather regions.” Suppressing the true cost of insurance encourages “private parties to (rationally) assume excessive risk, and dump the cost of living in the path of storms on others. Indeed, much of the development of storm-stricken coastal areas is due to insurance subsidies, and would likely not have happened at the same magnitude otherwise.””