As we move further into this presidential election year, I am getting more and more questions like this: “So, Mike, you understand this healthcare stuff, right? Which candidate has the best plan to fix healthcare?”
Folding about 80,000 new people into a large insured population is a challenging business, especially when many of the 80,000 have lots of untreated health conditions and have never had health insurance.
Of the 4.6 million people in our state, about 1.6 million of them (almost 34%) have a Blue Cross card in their pockets right now. “I have Blue Cross” is something people are very happy to say when they have health needs, need a new prescription, etc. Even for things as simple as their annual check-ups, there is much comfort in saying, when you get asked at the doctor’s office, “I have Blue Cross.”
Just one day after he was inaugurated as our new governor, John Bel Edwards signed an executive order to expand the Medicaid program in our state. There was rejoicing from some, grousing from others and questions from all.
Health insurance companies like Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana have a long history of trying to slow down the rapidly rising cost of healthcare. Over the years, a variety of strategies have emerged. Frankly, we’ve tried lots of stuff. When a company comes to us because their employee healthcare costs are going up too quickly, we try things like cutting out high-cost medical providers, steering people to less-expensive (but equally effective) drugs, raising out-of-pocket costs to discourage non-essential healthcare, and changing the mix between the employer contribution and the employee contribution.
I can’t help but notice some folks talking on our social media about eye-popping price increases. I’m hearing talk of premiums doubling, or even tripling, since last year. What’s the story with this?