When people try to explain why health insurance premiums are rising so fast, the common explanation you’ll get is that the cost of healthcare is rising. And, yes, this does have something to do with the reason health insurance premiums are increasing. But it’s not the reason health insurance premiums are so out of control. So you’re asking, what is the main reason then…?
We’re too fat and we overuse our healthcare system
According to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, our country is about to experience the first ever drop in life expectancy.
“we see a threatening storm — obesity —that will, if unchecked, have a negative effect on life expectancy.”
Why are we so fat compared with other countries? More of us have cars to get us around and food is faster and easier to get, and there is more of it. The rest of the world is starting to catch up with us because they also enjoy salty, fatty food and the luxury of motorized transportation, but they just can’t keep pace because they don’t quite have the same access to those things that we do.
Oh yes, I know, fast food is just an easy target, but there’s a reason. According to the Worldwatch Institute:
In the United States, an estimated 65 percent of adults are overweight or obese, leading to an annual loss of 300,000 lives and to at least $117 billion in health care costs in 1999.
That’s a loss of .1% of our current population (as of tuesday) annually because of obesity! Not to mention the expensive healthcare bill. Combine that with the fact that the sickest 10 percent of people account for 70 percent of the cost outlay for healthcare, according to Karen Davis of The Commonwealth Fund, and you can see how much of a burden it is on our system.
We’re getting fatter; we have the wrong idea of what health insurance is to be used for and usage of the system has increased dramatically.
I read articles in the Denver Post saying “Insurance Costs Outpace Wage Growth” and you hear people asking: “How can the insurance companies justify the rising of premiums when what they pay to the health providers do not go up. Also saw a chart recently that show over a 30 year period premiums rose about 70% where wages only increase about 30%, where is the justification?” — Answer: wages and premiums aren’t correlated.
The most eloquent explanation I’ve seen is from a comment on InsureBlog:
Last month I bought a rake at the hardware store and paid 12.00 for it. This month my son and daughter in law came to visit and I bought two more rakes for 12.00 each. Well, I just got my mail and doggone it my rake bill this month is 24.00! 24.00 is twice what I paid last month. How can the hardware store justify the rising of the cost for rakes when what they charge for rakes did not go up!!??