Each year, millions of Americans face the prospect of health insurance costs that rise more quickly than their salaries or inflation, and it's an issue so severe that parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act were included to deal with it. And while the ACA has helped to keep such increases under control in recent years, consumers in some parts of the country may not be so lucky. Certainly, that seems to be the case in Kansas for 2016.
Recent data suggests that workers in the state of Kansas receiving health insurance from companies with more than 100 employees could see rate increases of between 15 percent and 20 percent for next year, on average, according to a report from the Wichita Eagle. However, that comes in a range of rate changes, which will stretch from some companies seeing small drops in their costs to others seeing prices spike by at least 30 percent.
More points of concern
In addition to that, Kansans are likely to find the recent cross-industry trend of employers shifting more costs onto employees continue for them next year, the report said. For instance, many may start to pay more out of pocket not only for deductibles which could potentially rise by thousands of dollars, but also in the form of higher co-pays or co-insurance costs.
However, it should be noted that because of all these changes, the size of potential rate increases is uncertain, the report said. Some companies do not report their insurance changes to the state's regulator. Further, some rate changes are still being discussed and may change before they are finalized.
Other health insurance changes
In addition to those shifts for employees of large businesses, workers for smaller companies are also likely to be affected, the report said. The state recently approved several rate changes as high as 25 percent. Individuals are likely to see their rates rise by similar amounts. Experts say these latter two facts have come as a result of insurers no longer being allowed to turn down people for pre-existing conditions or similar reasons.
As a result, many companies of all sizes - but particularly smaller ones - may now be considering self-insuring their workers, or simply increasing out-of-pocket maximums as high as they are legally allowed to go, the report said. By doing so, they may be able to retain manageable costs unless their workers end up suffering particularly worrisome injuries or illnesses.
This is likely to be an ongoing concern for health insurance providers, as there may be major concerns among consumers about the ways in which their costs - out-of-pocket or otherwise - are rising above and beyond what their pay increases have been. That could be particularly true when it comes to those whose plans are staying the same or even being downgraded.