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Rising Health Insurance Costs Worry Americans

The cost of health insurance is increasing.

With health insurance costs on the rise, concern American families as to how to afford health care is growing. Increased costs in the health care sector have far outpaced other sectors and standard inflationary rates. The rise in costs is due to a number of reasons. Increases in medical malpractice suits, and thus insurance rates providers must pay, have increased dramatically in the last decade and a half. Misuse of emergency rooms, lack of preventive care, sedentary lifestyles, and increases in the number of elective surgeries are just some of the other reasons behind the rising costs of health insurance.

The current state of the economy and rising jobless numbers is making the situation even tougher. With many families' health insurance tied to their job, the loss of that job means much more than the loss of wages. For families with members with pre-existing conditions, finding affordable rates in a timely manner is difficult but necessary. COBRA health insurance gives workers rights to continue their coverage in the event of a job less, however, workers usually are responsible for the full amount of the premium.

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Some experts and many in the media blame health insurance companies for hiking rates and singling out unhealthy individuals. The problem does not rest entirely on the insurers themselves. Legislation in place preventing sales of plans across state lines prevents insurers from developing larger client pools, thus spreading the burden across more payers. Allowing interstate sales of plans would go a long way in assisting insurance providers in developing lower costs for consumers with larger risk-pools.

Discussion on taxing health benefits is another growing worry to many American families. For those family members keeping their jobs, the idea of more taxes is daunting. GOP Presidential candidate John McCain came under fire last fall for suggesting such a step was needed to pay for an overhaul in the nation's health care system. President Obama claimed to be against such a measure at the time but is now reportedly looking into the idea, one that officials claim would raise more than $3.5 trillion in the next decade. Talk of such a measure is leaving many Americans wondering how this will help them personally with affordable health insurance.

Some families are switching to health insurance plans with lower premiums but higher deductibles, plans of which cover less preventive and expected care and focus more on catastrophic events. Some experts argue this is a better model for the health care industry. Just as car insurance providers do not pay for annual maintenance of a vehicle, oil changes, or new tires, some argue annual physicals and other basic care measures are not an insurers' responsibility. Some argue insurance should be limited for visits to specialists, severe accidents, and other catastrophic events.

By cutting costs all around American families are finding ways to afford their health insurance. The majority of the country does have insurance, and many statisticians argue more than half the 45 million without could afford access to various plans. With health insurance costs on the rise, Washington should allow for companies to develop the largest risk pools as possible. This step alone would help stem the tide of higher costs everywhere.