Consumers happy with insurance coverage

Across all demographics, consumers report relatively high satisfaction with health insurance companies, with insurers earning an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars by survey respondents.

Respondents participating in Medicare or Medicaid plans, as well as those in the 73+ age group, consistently rated their health insurer satisfaction higher than all other ages and insurance type.

While the media would have us believe that consumers are unhappy with their health insurance a new survey by HealthEdge says otherwise.  “While consumers are generally satisfied with their insurers, as well as the current industry model, the survey population reported that they desire a number of key services from their health insurer that would further increase their member satisfaction. More than 40 percent of respondents across all age groups reported that tools/information to better understand benefits , more incentives for healthy behaviors and tools/information to help find less costly care are the top three services that would improve member satisfaction” the report said.

In the meantime pharma continues to take it on the chin for the responsibility of high health costs. Part of this might be because of the rising costs of insulin.  The price for a vial of one the most popular insulin brands, Humalog, increased from $21 in 1996, to $35 in 2001, to $234 in 2015, to $275 in 2017. There are no generic forms of insulin on the market, but there are some cheaper “biosimilar” versions. In addition ,according to IQVIA, a health-data firm, the wholesale prices of leading drugs such as Humira, Enbrel and Lyrica increased by more than 120% between 2012 and 2017. Other data show that cancer-drug prices rose from about $10,000 to over $100,000 per year in just over a decade to 2012. Further ahead, a new generation of cures, such as a gene therapy for hemophilia, may cost more than $1m.

Despite these price increases prescription drugs only account for a very small portion of every health care dollar spent.  The real drivers of healthcare continue to be ourselves via our poor lifestyle choices. Nearly 40 percent of rural American men and almost half of rural women are now statistically obese, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers reported Tuesday and you can bet that it’s going to cost us ALL plenty.

It may not be fair, but perception today is reality.  The data that PhRMA puts out is largely ignored by most people and pharma CEO’s continue to rake in millions of dollars in compensation while we read horror stories about people who can’t afford their drugs.

Don’t expect the noise over drug prices to fade anytime soon, but in the future we are all going to be asking why our healthcare costs are so high as we point the finger at everyone but ourselves.

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