Archive for Thursday, November 20, 2003

KU to study health insurance affordability

November 20, 2003

Each year, the Kansas Insurance Department receives thousands of phone calls from consumers asking for answers to their insurance questions. More than half of those calls are related to a single topic: health insurance. While many of these questions are related to specific issues with single health insurance policies, we also hear many questions about the cost, availability and status of health insurance in general.
A recent statewide survey of Kansas indicates about 10.5 percent of our state's population is living without any health insurance. The survey was funded by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration and administered by the Kansas Insurance Department and the University of Kansas Medical Center. Now the federal government has awarded the Kansas Insurance Department an additional grant of $185,000 for research into ways to make health insurance more affordable and available to Kansans.
We have once again turned to the University of Kansas Medical Center for assistance. Dr. Barbara Langner from the KU School of Nursing will lead our efforts to refine the existing survey information and update what we know about health insurance in Kansas.
We already know that uninsured people tend to avoid the doctor except for serious injuries or illness. This is inefficient and expensive. Many of these same people tell us they cannot afford the existing health insurance products offered.
Small employers say they are finding it harder to offer health benefits to their employees. Larger employers are facing rising costs and often pass more of those insurance costs to their workers. Individual insurance policies have seen the greatest percentage of cost increases in the past decade. And the cost of healthcare and health insurance are projected to increase at similar rates for the next several years.
There are no simple answers. But with good information and effective research, we can get a better idea of who is uninsured, and how we might be able to fill the gaps. We will talk to employers, employees and Kansans from all walks of life. And, as always, the Kansas Insurance Department welcomes input from anyone with ideas, questions or concerns.
The University of Kansas Medical Center and the Health Resources and Services Administration have been very helpful to us with this important research. I look forward to working closely with these partners as we develop a strategic plan to improve health insurance coverage in Kansas.
If you have a question or concern about an insurance-related issue, call the Consumer Assistance Hotline at 1-800-432-2484 or visit the Department's web site at www.ksinsurance.org. Assistance is also available at the Wichita office by calling (316) 337-6010.

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