A forum focused on health insurance and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) points to one thing – Nebraskans need to shop around for coverage.
Cong. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE1) convened insurance experts to figure out the current Affordable Care Act offerings.
He says consumers need to be in control.
“Empowering families to take better care of their first dollar of cost,” Fortenberry tells reporters following the event. “Empowering doctors to work with families so they are getting the tests they need, the services are being provided well. They are working with the patient to find an affordable way to get this done.”
Matthew Leonard with Blue Cross Blue Shield Nebraska says once you buy the right plan, you still need to keep an eye on your costs.
“We’ve seen times where there’s a 200 to 300 percent difference on a procedure that might be right across town or across the street from one another,” he says. “The same thing actually applies for prescriptions, so there are a lot of time when you can call around and make sure you’re getting the appropriate deal on those.”
Nebraskans buying health insurance through the federal marketplace can expect significant premium increases, depending on which type of plan they want to purchase.
Fortenberry is pushing Health Savings Accounts (HSA)as a solution to increasing health insurance costs.
He says future generations can start saving money while they are young and healthy.
“An account that’s set aside that’s tax-deferred, where you can build up a healthy amount of money, and use that money to pay for ordinary first-dollar costs, injecting the patient and consumer back into the system and asking simple questions: How much is this going to cost me? Do we really need this test?” he says.
Fortenberry says some type of catastrophic health insurance coverage would be needed as a safety net.
Matthew Leonard says a shift is underway towards seeking out the better deal.
“Most of us have been used to copays, where we go in, regardless of the prescription, and it was $10. Now that we know that it may be $100 at Pharmacy A and $212 at Pharmacy B, it becomes very real to people and they start to do a little more shopping,” Leonard says. “We’re seeing that shift, not only from the prescription side, but also into physicians and hospitals and procedures.”
He says prices vary due to individual contracts that insurance companies have with providers and customers, but some transparency tools are beginning to shed more light on costs.