Eight publicly owned health insurance companies posted a whopping 31 percent increase in profit in 2019 over the previous year. One would think that would mean rates do not need to change, despite the losses posted due to coronavirus. But of course anyone making that assumption would be dead wrong. Insurance companies are poised to hike rates 11.7 percent — and that’s just an average. Some companies want their rates to go far higher.
So what gives?
Obviously, coronavirus has wrought havoc on our economy. Businesses are only now reopening even though coronavirus cases are rising more and more with each passing day. Deaths in the United States could easily surpass 250,000 by this fall if the virus continues to spread at this rate. Most people don’t seem to care.
According to NYHPA President Eric Linzer: “From the outset and throughout the continuing coronavirus crisis, New York’s health plans have made extraordinary efforts to meet the needs of consumers, businesses and our health care partners. This has included waiving copayments and cost sharing for COVID-19 testing, telehealth services and mental health services for essential workers, and providing cash advances and other support to hospitals, physician practices and others in the delivery system to address the financial uncertainty they’re facing.”
The irony in our failing system is obvious: when people need care the most, they can’t get it because of the very thing causing that need in the first place: coronavirus. And for everyone else, prices go up.
That’s why insurance companies are likely to see a wave of lawsuits head their way, and there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to stand against it. Americans are opening their eyes to the flaws in the system, and they want one that works. One has to wonder if the expected lawsuits are the real reason for proposed insurance rate hikes!