WASHINGTON BUREAU – The Affordable Care Act is one – but just one – of the major contributors to recent increases in health costs, according to America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).
Officials at AHIP, Washington, prepared an analysis of the factors responsible for the rising cost of health care in response to a group health cost hearing organized by the House Education and Workforce Committee’s health subcommittee.
Members of the committee and hearing witnesses talked mainly about the effects of the Affordable Care Act, the legislative package that includes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
AHIP has been highly critical of some aspects of PPACA and PPACA implementation, but it says the causes of recent rate increases include many factors in addition to PPACA mandates, including the rising cost of medical services, the rising cost of prescription drugs, and a tendency for younger, healthier people to react to a weak economy by dropping coverage.
In Oregon, the prices of many medical services have increased at an average annual rate exceeding 10%, AHIP says.
In California, the group says, the price of a hospital stay increased by an average of more than 11% per year from 2000 to 2009.
“Trends likes these are being seen across the country,” AHIP says. “Focusing solely on premiums while failing to rein in underlying medical costs will not make health care coverage more affordable.”
At the hearing, the list of witnesses included Michael Brewer, president of the Lockton Benefit Group unit at Lockton Inc., Kansas City, Mo.
The cost of PPACA provisions could grow between now and 2014, when PPACA is set to create a system of insurance distribution exchanges and individual health products that will create a new, subsidized alternative to group health coverage, Brewer said.