Tweaking Obamacare to lower health care cost in CT

HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Do you get a yearly exam? What about that mammogram?

Preventive steps and affordable coverage are the foundation of Obamacare, with the goal being driving down overall healthcare cost. Millions more are insured due to the Affordable Care Act, but premiums are up this open enrollment and with fewer insurers available.

Mostly because those who got in are getting the medical care they need.

“What we see is people signing up for Obamacare when they already have an illness,” said Quinnipiac University Health Law Professor John Thomas.

Compounding the problem is the low penalty for not signing up.

He explains, “The most you’ll ever pay if you don’t buy insurance is $695. If you’re young and healthy that’s a lot cheaper than health insurance.”

Prof. Thomas points out because Obamacare offers tax credits for many uninsured with no access to other insurance, it’s still fairly affordable.

So why the higher out of pocket costs for most of us?

“Those rates are going up,” Prof. Thomas says, “Because the cost of providing care is going up, largely through the increased used of pharmaceuticals and through the very expensive use of technology and modern medicine, which is a great thing but it cost a lot of money.”

That has the attention of Vicki Veltri in the Lieutenant Governors Office.

“The major work we need to do around making health insurance affordable is making health care cost come down,” she says.

As Chief Health Policy Advisor, she coordinates strategies such as encouraging employers to offer incentives.

“It could be a waiver of a co-pay,” said Veltri. “It could be a lower deductible. We think through those mechanisms, people will be more engaged and more likely to take advantage of those kinds of services and as a consequence bring costs down.”

Educating that younger population on the value of being covered is already underway.

“We want you to prevent something from occurring. We want you to get your preventive care,” Veltri explains. “The way you get those more easily and cost free because preventive services are free, is to get your health insurance coverage.”

Another component is reforming how it’s delivered.

Veltri says, “We think the way to bring health care cost down for most people, not everybody but most people is to encourage a relationship with a primary care provider who in fact is coordinating their care.”

The goal — more health and less health care.

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