Nearly two-thirds of Nevadans experienced health care affordability burdens in 2022, forgoing health insurance, having difficulty paying medical bills, and delaying medical visits for dental care, addiction treatment, and mental health care.
The healthcare industry is doing well in 2022 though, according to a recent review of the United States of Care, a non-partisan non-profit dedicated to improving access to quality health care, released at the end of November.
Health care premiums in Nevada have grown at a significantly higher rate than the cost of covered insurance claims, contributing to record-breaking health insurance company income. The Nevada Department of Insurance (DOI) does not administer provider and hospital rates, but does administer rates for small group and individual insurance plans in Nevada.
And Nevada hospitals have seen patient revenues exceed operating costs, according to an analysis by United States of Care, a nonpartisan non-profit dedicated to improving access to quality care. health issue released in November.
The findings are clear. You see on the one hand people who are really struggling with affordability in a really profound way and on the other hand, you have the health care industry that is profitable and very profitable financially, Liz Hagan, director of policy solutions at United States of Care, said in an interview.
Insurance companies and hospitals in Nevada both saw profit margins up 15%, according to the report.
The state’s largest private health insurance companies, UnitedHealth Group, Centene, and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, are some of the Fortune 500’s most profitable companies. UnitedHealth Group will earn $28.4 billion in national revenue in 2022, a 19% that increase from 2021, according to the report.
In addition to revenues from the individual insurance market, the three companies cover 900,000 Nevadans who pay for Medicare Advantage plans, whose sales are estimated to be worth $2 billion each. They also cover the bulk of 46% of Nevadans with employer coverage.
Representatives from the UnitedHealth Group, Centene, and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield did not respond to requests for comment.
Compared to most of the rest of the country, the hospital industry in Nevada is largely privatized. At 55.3%, the state ranks 13th for the highest percentage of for-profit hospitals, according to 2021 data, which is the latest cited in analysis of the United States of Care.
The review cited this as one of the reasons for higher health care costs in the state, noting that despite the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting hospital operations, the hospital has recovered financially with federal aid that aid funding and that the for-profit hospital’s patient revenues exceed the state’s operating costs.
Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, owned by the largest for-profit health system in the US, Hospital Corporation of America, charges patients the second highest price compared to the actual cost of care of any hospital in country, in a average bill mark-up rate of 12.9.
Representatives from Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center did not respond to requests for comment.
These profit margins don’t translate into better care Nevada ranks 41st in overall health system performance, and last in prevention and treatment, according to the report. Nor does the poor ranking translate into stagnant prices.By 2023, Nevada consumers face a 9% increase in health insurance premiums, according to the report.
The impact of rising health care costs permeates other aspects of life higher hospital bills and health premiums have also been used to justify the increase in car insurance premiums and exacerbate health care debt, causing people to cut back on other household expenses, deplete savings, skip paying other bills, or delay attending college, buying a home or relocating their living situation, according to KFF, a non-profit foundation that produces research, journalism, and health care communication programs.
There have been several efforts at the state level to stem the health care affordability crisis in Nevada including the reduction prescription drug prices and development of a healthcare growth benchmark through the Patient Protection Commission.
State lawmakers have laid the groundwork to create a public option health insurance program designed to offer coverage at a lower cost. However, while filing the federal waiver required to implement the public option, the administration of Gov. Joe Lombardo prioritized federal funding for a reinsurance program for insurance companies.
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