Owens staffer speaks on health insurance | PostIndependent.com

Owens staffer speaks on health insurance

America’s health-care system is inefficient because people are distanced from the true price of their own health care. So believes David Rivera, Gov. Bill Owens’ senior policy adviser. He spoke to a group of about 50 local small business owners, insurance agents and community members Wednesday morning, to give an update on Colorado’s health insurance environment. “In 1960, more than 55 percent of total health-care spending was paid directly by the consumer,” Rivera said. “In 2002, it was 14 percent.”He said the Owens administration’s stand is that third-party payment – that is, payment by health insurance companies – leads to excess spending, since people don’t have any incentive to shop around for the most cost-effective care. “We spend a lot, but don’t get the bang for our buck because consumers are not responsible for, and not empowered to make, their own health care decisions,” Rivera said.In turn, that spending leads to runaway costs, which leads to health insurance companies restricting what they cover.”That leads to consumer discontent, which leads to governmental interference,” Rivera said.The solution – according to OwensRivera told the group the Owens administration solutions need to come from the federal, state and employer-employee levels.One way is to create vehicles for consumer-driven health care. For example, instead of implementing the $15 co-pay system, create $1,000 consumer health -are spending accounts that can roll over from year to year.He also said that current employer-based health insurance needs restructuring.”It’s an outdated model,” Rivera said, explaining that model was created in the 1940s, when the majority of households had one wage earner who stayed in the same job with the same company for decades.”It wasn’t created for the mobility of today’s work force,” he said. “And it’s not beneficial for today’s small business owner, or for part-time and seasonal workers.”On the state level, Rivera said Owens is working to create and encourage consumers to choose the plans and benefits they want, and to control costs by reducing mandates and regulations. He said programs like the Roaring Fork Valley Community Health Plan, a local nonprofit organization that collaborates with local doctors, hospitals, PacifiCare, businesses and citizens, show that the private sector can work to create successful solutions to health care issues. Rivera also mentioned Gov. Owens’ Rural Health Care Initiative, which is providing $6 million in grant money to municipalities to improve primary, dental and mental health care in rural communities. That promted a half a dozen hands to shoot in the air with questions. Towns and cities that qualify need to have a letter of intent to the governor’s office by Aug. 2. The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, Roaring Fork Community Health Plan, PacifiCare and Van Gilder Insurance Corp. sponsored the event.Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518cclick@postindependent.com

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