As Phoebe Putney Hospital officials defended their buyout of Palmyra Medical Center, they insisted a lack of healthcare competition does not translate into higher healthcare costs. There is new proof that's just not true.
Georgians who don't have health insurance, or who aren't happy with their coverage, can now sign up for insurance through an exchange set up by the federal government under Obamacare.
The state is divided into 16 regions. Premiums vary by region, but those in the Albany area are by far the most expensive in the state. Some plans are more than twice the cost of similar plans in most of the rest of the state.
The Department of Health and Human Services says healthcare competition is one of many factors in that disparity. Blue Cross Blue Shield is the only insurance company offering plans under Obamacare in our region. Experts trained to help enroll people say that lack of competition is the primary reason for high premiums in south Georgia.
"The Metro Atlanta area is saturated with healthcare facilities and providers whereas in Southwest Georgia, we have limited choices, and limited choices leads to lack of negotiating power on behalf of the insurance companies, and a lack of negotiating power will lead to higher prices," said Health Care Exchange specialist April Bush.
It's a shame people in the poorest region of the state must pay the highest premiums for these new health plans. It highlights problems with our healthcare system, and it's proof that patients are the losers when they don't have choice in healthcare.