Rise in health insurance costs affects futures

by: Heidi Krick, Staff Writer
The fact of the matter is mandated health insurance is part of the financial problem.
Insurance has become the middleman to obtain proper health care.  As the prices for health and pharmaceutical care have gone up, health insurance costs have increased as well.
According to a 2010 Families USA health care report, more than 26,000 deaths occur each year due to a lack of health insurance, resulting in improper or non-existent health care.
President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will do wonders for many Americans, particularly those who were previously denied health insurance due to a pre-existing condition.  However, many critics of President Obama’s plan wonder how truly beneficial the plan is for the general public.
Under Obama’s health care reform law, college students must show proof of health insurance in order to attend school.  Many college students opted to accept the student health insurance offered by their school rather than remain on their parent’s care plan or provide their own private insurance.  There are more than 64,000 students in North Carolina under the current insurance plan offered by Chartis Insurance, previously known as Pearce and Pearce.
At the start of the current academic year, students under the current student health insurance plan received the unfortunate news that health insurance costs for students in the University of North Carolina school system have nearly doubled.
Tuition costs have also increased, in an effort to balance the rising costs of student coverage.  Due to the mandate that college students cannot attend school unless they are covered, each semester many students lose a large chunk of their financial aid in order to pay for health insurance.
Even with mandated insurance, certain aspects of proper health care remain uncovered.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, sleep disorders affect more than 40 million Americans. With sleep disorders contributing to nearly $16 billion in health care costs each year, one would assume such disorders should be covered by health insurance, particularly for young college students.  Untreated disorders like insomnia only worsen with age and are directly linked to unstable mental and physical health.
UNC Asheville’s Health and Counseling Center is able to discuss and potentially diagnose sleep disorders occurring in students.
However, if the student is urged to see a sleep specialist or prescribed medication for the disorder, the cost of the high priced specialist, as well as the doctor prescribed medication, must be paid in full by the student or student’s family.
The Supreme Court almost got it right.  Not only is proper health care a human right, but affordable health care is a necessity.
Mitt Romney does not believe that uninsured people die because they lack health insurance.
Well governor, sorry to be among the many journalists bursting your bubble, but this claim could not be farther from the truth.
Many people, not just the elderly, argue the “old days” were a simpler time.  In regards to health care, this might actually be true.  Prior to the early 1960s, health insurance was only needed for expensive procedures that patients could not afford to pay for out of pocket.
Costly surgeries, x-rays and extended care treatment costs were covered mainly by health care providers and the patient’s insurance, allowing the patient to provide a small co-pay, while basic check-ups and inexpensive procedures were paid out of pocket by the patient.  Health insurance was not needed to pay for basic check-ups and inexpensive procedures because the cost for this type of health care was actually affordable.
Of course, technological advances have contributed to the rising costs of health care and insurance.  However, with a middleman in tow, hospitals and care providers are able to increase their prices substantially as most of the care is paid through insurance.
Health care costs rose only 3.3 percent each year in the three decades prior to 1965.  Once government mandated health insurance began to take over during the mid to late 1960s, health care costs increased more than 7.7 percent each year.
According to a recent Bloomberg Business Report, health care costs make up about 16 percent of an average consumer’s total spending, more than clothing and food costs combined.
In 2014, once Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act goes into full affect, many believe businesses that are forced to offer health insurance to employees working 30 or more hours each week will cut employee hours in an effort to lessen insurance costs. Not only will this leave many employees uninsured, but fewer work hours will mean a smaller paycheck.
Darden Restaurants, the parent company of Red Lobster and Olive Garden, has already begun primarily hiring part-time employees in order to stay ahead of the looming federal mandate.  If more corporations take on this same practice, more Americans may wind up uninsured than ever before.
The answer to a stronger health care system seems simple, yet largely ignored.  If Americans are able to eliminate the need for insurance from minor health care procedures they will be better able to take full advantage of proper care.