Less Healthy and More Costly

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is helping to reduce the number of people who are uninsured in Arizona and across our country. However, a new report by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBS) suggests that the latest ACA enrollees are sicker and have higher medical care costs.

From the New York Times:

People newly enrolled in individual Blue Cross health plans in 2014 and 2015 were found to have higher rates of certain diseases and conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, coronary artery disease, H.I.V. and hepatitis C, than people who already had coverage.

Likewise, the report said, consumers newly enrolled in Blue Cross plans in 2014-15 used more medical services than those who first bought coverage before 2014. Hospital admission rates were 84 percent higher, it said, and the frequency of visits to doctors and other medical professionals was 26 percent higher.

According to the Washington Post, “Researchers and policy experts have always predicted that new enrollees during the first few years would include many older, sicker consumers who previously lacked insurance. But over time, companies and others hope the cost of caring for those enrollees will be balanced out by attracting younger, and presumably healthier, individuals.”

The BCBS study claims the cost of care for new ACA enrollees was 22 percent higher than the cost for people with employer based coverage in 2015. The concern now is that this new information may drive up insurance premiums. According to CNN Money:

This raises fresh concerns about the possibility of steep rate hikes for 2017 and of insurers leaving the Obamacare exchanges.

We would love to hear your thoughts on the study and how it might affect us here in Arizona. Stimulating conversations around these types of health issues will not only help us find fresh answers to difficult challenges, it will also help us take another step toward our goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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