Why are health insurance premiums so expensive in La.?
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - Louisiana is ranked second in the nation for the most expensive health insurance premiums, according to a study by Forbes.
Louisiana insurance experts say there are a number of reasons for this:
- The state ranks low in health, and higher premiums help pay for the increased medical expenses.
- Louisiana businesses pay less toward employee insurance than in other states.
“In Louisiana, employers here don’t contribute as much to health insurance as other businesses in other states do. In the same data that the Forbes guy quoted, we were 49th on the list in ‘employer contributions to health insurance,” said Michael Bertaut, healthcare economist with Blue Cross Blue Shield.
He also says that Louisiana’s poor health rating is a reason for higher premiums.
“Louisiana has one of the highest rates of diabetes in the nation. It has one of the highest rates of obesity in the nation. All of those things end up driving up health insurance costs because, at the end of the day, most of that care is gonna be paid for by health insurance moreso than out of pocket.”
According to the Forbes study, the average single Louisiana employee pays almost $1,800 a year for insurance. Plus-one coverage employees pay more than $4,600 annually. Employees on a family plan pay almost $7,000 a year.
“People who have medical bills, and they can’t pay their car note or their house note because they have to take care of themselves and they want to be there for their families,” said Lindsay Lee, a Shreveport resident.
Bertaut said cheaper insurance premiums are achievable with specifically crafted healthcare plans.
“They need to make sure the doctor they want to use accepts that insurance. They need to make sure the prescription drugs that they are already taking are covered by that insurance, and they need to make sure that if that insurance offers any other benefits like dental or vision, they can get access to that as well.”
He also said that federal dollars have recently become available to those in need.
“Starting last week, families who get unaffordable coverage from an employer will be able to take that coverage to healthcare.gov, and they’ll be able to shop on healthcare.gov and access whatever federal money they qualify for, and there’s a lot,” said Bertaut.
If you’re looking to switch your coverage, he recommends speaking to a professional.
“If they’re going to shop on their own, I would really recommend that they use an agent. There are thousands of individual agents scattered through the state. They are licensed by the Department of Insurance. They’re bonded, they know what they’re doing and they’re trained. They also don’t charge you anything to use their services. If an agent is trying to charge you for their help, they’re not the right agent to talk to,” said Bertaut.
The following are resources he recommends:
- Straight Talk Multimedia Healthcare Blog: This online blog is where Bertaut provides advice on health insurance.
- HealthCare.gov: This is a health insurance exchange website operated by the United States federal government.
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