Health insurance cost reaches critical mass - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Health insurance cost reaches critical mass

November 28, 2006

Albany --  Are you afraid to go to the doctor even when you're sick because it costs so much?  Or have you had to cut back on your health insurance benefits or even cancel your policy altogether? 

If so, you're not alone.  The cost of health insurance in Georgia has grown more than seven times faster than the increase in your salary.

If you want to buy a health insurance policy, David Prisant can sell you one, but lately he's been doing a lot more canceling of policies than he would like.  "I think it's terrible, and I'm keenly aware of it, because I deal with it everyday."

He has to deal with the reality of people choosing between insuring their health and making sure their families eat at night. "If you reach the point where I'm going to eat and pay utility bills and put clothes on my family, that's what we have to do."

But why?  Why are insurance premiums going through the roof?  Prisant has a few theories. First, he thinks hospitals that have exclusive rights to specialty services, increase their prices since there is no competition. "When you're the only show in town, you can pretty much set your price."

But it's not just hospital prices, how about those prescription drugs? "I think the drug companies could do a little bit to lower their costs by not advertising to the general public," said Prisant.

Besides, it's not as though you can just go out and buy anything they're advertising, but the cost of those ads will be passed on to the consumer.  Just as the cost of indigent patients is passed along to the ones who have insurance, and yet again, insurance premiums will go up.

Are they going to go down?  "You'd like to think so, but I tell you what, I can't see them getting any higher.  It's just ridiculous," said Prisant.

In six years, annual insurance premiums shared by Georgia workers and employers increased from $6,637  to about $11,000.  


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