Health Care in Alabama: Why am I paying more for health care?

Patients in Alabama want answers: Why is health insurance so expensive?

Patients in Alabama are asking, “Why am I paying more for health care?”

Jonathan Wilcox, our co-founder and policy director, examines that question and addresses the biggest problems facing patients in Alabama.

“Alabamians say that the top health care priorities for politicians and government officials should be managing premium increases, lowering co-pays and deductibles and holding insurance companies accountable,” he writes in a recent piece at the Alabama Media Group. “It’s time to put patients first and make health care, medicines and treatment easy and accessible.”

“There is no humane reason health insurers should be inhibiting the decisions of our doctors and there is no excuse for denying vital medications while patients become sicker and their lives remain very literally in the balance.”

“The rejection of medically necessary drugs combined with higher health care costs is a truly deadly mix for patients. Denying vital medications could result in serious consequences; who is responsible when this occurs? Doctors are required to take an oath to do no harm; should insurers be asked to do the same?”

Alabama: Cost of Health Care Going Up 36 Percent in 2017

Last month, Time Magazine named Alabama to its list of states with the worst health insurance rate hikes in the country.

“Individual plan premiums from Blue Cross Blue Shield—the only company offering individual plans in the state in 2017—will rise an average of 36% next year. Roughly 165,000 Alabama residents bought insurance through the marketplace in 2016. The new price hikes come on the heels of BCBS increasing premiums 28% from 2015 to 2016 for individual plans purchased through the marketplace.

Slate notes that a benchmark plan will cost $384. That steep price means patients in Alabama pay “one of the biggest increases in the country.

Why are patients paying more? CNBC reports that Alabama is one of a handful of states that has a health insurance monopoly. Patients that buy insurance through the marketplace have only one option available. Less competition means higher premiums.

What Patients Say About Health Care in Alabama

What do patients in Alabama say about the quality of care and their ability to access treatments? According to a recently released national and statewide survey from the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD),

  • 45 percent of Alabama residents have seen their health care costs increase.
  • Almost one-third say coverage for them is not only getting more expensive, it’s actually getting worse.
  • 77 percent of Americans polled offered that they or someone they know had difficulty using their health insurance just in the past year.
  • 20 percent of Alabamians say the treatment their doctor recommended wasn’t covered by insurance
  • 22 percent say the treatment of someone they know had the same problem
  • 88 percent of Alabamians declared as very or somewhat important the need for transparency regarding how and why health plans are deciding to deny coverage of doctor-prescribed treatments.

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