Insurance premiums rise, even for doctor's group - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Insurance premiums rise, even for doctor's group

November 29, 2007

Albany-  An Albany doctors group may no longer be able to pay the full cost of health insurance for their employees, and they blame high prices at Phoebe Putney Hospital.

Annual insurance premiums for the 26 workers at Allergy and Asthma Clinics of Georgia will jump 30 percent. They say something must be done to lower the cost of health care in southwest Georgia.

The doctors at Allergy and Asthma Clinics of Georgia know a thing or two about rising health care costs, but even they were shocked to learn their own benefit premiums for 26 workers would increase 30 percent. They asked their insurance provider why?

"What's the cause for this increase, and the finger was pointed squarely at Phoebe Putney," said Alan Moree, Allergy and Asthma Clinics of Georgia Administrator.

Now they'll pay $6,600 per employee. While employee benefits are fully funded by the company that may soon change.

"We feel like we're caught in between. Our doctors are committed to providing that benefits for our employees, but the cost is becoming prohibitive at this point," said Moree.

They say a report released Wednesday by a group called Georgia Watch made them question if they're paying for Phoebe's pricing strategy and high salaries for executives.

"It just seems like we could do a better job in this community of trying to work together businesses and health care providers to bring down the cost of health care," said Moree.

They've talked with other small businesses experiencing similar problems and while they don't have a solution they say competition may help.

"To me, I'm a free market person, I think competition is good, and personally I would like to see changes in the certificate of need laws," said Moree.

Increases in the cost of drugs, supplies, and electricity, are enough to make the cost of doing business high, they say the last thing they needed was a hike in what they consider a valuable benefit for employees.

An independent study on south Georgia's health care prices is almost finished. The report commissioned by the city, county, and Department of Economic Development to look at south Georgia's high medical costs is due out next month.

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