NewsHealthcare Affordability Woes Grips Two-Thirds of Nevadans

Healthcare Affordability Woes Grips Two-Thirds of Nevadans


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In 2022, nearly two-thirds of Nevada residents grappled with healthcare affordability challenges, leading to a significant number forgoing health insurance, struggling with medical bills, and delaying essential medical visits, including dental care, addiction treatment, and mental health care.

Contrary to the financial strains experienced by the public, the health care industry in Nevada thrived in 2022, as indicated by a recent analysis from the United States of Care, a non-partisan non-profit committed to enhancing access to quality health care. The study, released in November, revealed that health care premiums in the state surged at a notably higher rate than the cost of covered insurance claims, contributing to record-breaking profits for health insurance companies.

Despite the robust performance of the health care sector, particularly insurance companies and hospitals in Nevada, a stark contrast emerged between the financial success of the industry and the affordability challenges faced by residents. Profit margins exceeding 15% were reported for both insurance companies and hospitals, including major players like UnitedHealth Group, Centene, and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. UnitedHealth Group, for instance, saw a 19% increase in national profits, reaching $28.4 billion in 2022.

The report highlighted the privatization of Nevada’s hospital industry, ranking 13th in the nation with 55.3% for-profit hospitals, as a contributing factor to higher healthcare costs in the state. Despite disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, for-profit hospitals in Nevada managed to recover financially, aided by federal relief funding.

The analysis also revealed concerning practices in individual hospitals, such as Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, owned by the Hospital Corporation of America, which charged patients the second-highest prices compared to the actual cost of care in the nation, with an average bill mark-up rate of 12.9.

Despite the industry’s financial success, the report noted that Nevada ranked 41st in overall health system performance and last in prevention and treatment. Moreover, consumers in the state faced a 9% increase in health insurance premiums in 2023, further exacerbating the impact of rising healthcare costs on households.

While state-level efforts have been initiated to address the healthcare affordability crisis, including measures to reduce prescription drug prices and the development of a healthcare growth benchmark, challenges persist. Lawmakers have laid the groundwork for a public option health insurance program aimed at providing more affordable coverage, but recent decisions prioritizing federal funding for insurance companies’ reinsurance programs have raised concerns about the effectiveness of such initiatives.

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