Wednesday, March 22, 2017 Health Insurance Cost Crisis

The following commentary is by North Carolina Farm Bureau President Larry Wooten, first published in the Spring 2017 issue of NC Field and Family.

Quality, affordable and transparent healthcare system needed

America’s healthcare system is in need of intensive care, and it will take the best efforts of Congress and the new administration to save the nation’s sickest patient: the health insurance system.

The future of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is on the minds of most Americans. Farm Bureau members in every county, and in each income level, are impacted by our nation’s dysfunctional healthcare system. While based on good intentions, the Affordable Care Act does not work for all Americans. We’re looking to Congress to fix this law.

The current healthcare system provides little competition or checks and balances for runaway prices. In 2016, annual premiums for an average family reached $18,142, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. The average price increase for 2017 was 25 percent. At best, this system is unsustainable.

President Trump and Congress have agreed that all citizens of the United States should have access to quality and affordable healthcare. Farm Bureau is working with our members of Congress, state legislators and health insurance officials to find workable solutions.

The Affordable Care Act is just one of the factors sending costs up, and its repeal would not solve all the issues with our healthcare system. Other factors are a health system that rewards revenue generation rather than quality of care, the uncontrolled cost of prescription drugs, and the consolidation of hospitals and doctors’ offices that also add to the cost escalation.

North Carolina is second only to California in healthcare mandates. State legislative mandates for specific types of coverage may not be individually expensive, yet collectively, they are a huge burden on policyholders. The North Carolina General Assembly must pause before considering any more mandates on health insurance coverage.

I encourage every Farm Bureau member to educate themselves on these crucial healthcare issues. We all need to discuss these issues with our United States’ senators, House members and our state legislators. We must demand a quality, affordable and transparent healthcare system for our families and future generations.