Mike Jacobson: Discover lower healthcare costs

Last week, I informed you about the issues facing the property and casualty insurance industry and the real impact these issues are having on voters across the 42nd District.

This also includes the many insurance agents who work every day to help their customers get insured at the best possible rates.

This week, I want to focus on the health insurance industry and the ongoing struggle to balance the cost of insurance with the cost of providing quality health care.

I have had the opportunity to serve on the board of Great Plains Health over the past several years. It was a great experience and learning opportunity that better prepared me to serve in the Nebraska Legislature.

As I reflect on my long banking history, I have always known that economic development begins with the availability of quality, affordable health care.

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The North Platte region is fortunate to have such a wonderful facility serving everyone in District 42 and beyond. Think how you would feel if we didn’t have a highly rated emergency department or an excellent cancer center, a brilliant neurosurgeon and a supporting team of doctors and nurses. care about their patients. But this type of quality health care is expensive to provide.

After complying with a mountain of compliance requirements, hospitals that accept Medicare and Medicaid provide care to patients but are reimbursed at rates well below their costs.

Furthermore, the reality is that many uninsured patients visit the emergency department every day and do not have the means to pay. Ultimately, it is the people covered by health insurance that will make the difference in the funding needed to operate at a minimal profit.

To reduce costs for policyholders or employer-sponsored health plans, insurance companies offer Medicare Advantage plans.

It’s important to note that Medicare Advantage plans are, in fact, private insurance products, not Medicare. If you purchase a Medicare Advantage plan, you will no longer be enrolled in Medicare.

You can always cancel an Advantage plan, but you don’t automatically qualify for Medicare. In fact, your premiums will most likely be higher if you later sign up for Medicare.

A Medicare Supplement policy is also an insurance policy, but it is actually a supplemental policy to Medicare and you are still enrolled in Medicare.

So why are insurance companies pushing Medicare Advantage plans? Simple answer. Medicare Advantage plans are high-yield policies that limit coverage, primarily through prior authorization requirements.

For example, if a patient is admitted to the hospital and the hospital performs treatments before receiving prior authorization (which can sometimes take several days), the provider will not receive any payment for their service.

This results in treatment being delayed or hospitals or other providers not being paid. As a result, many providers have chosen not to accept Medicare Advantage as a payment source.

When this happens, people covered under a Medicare Advantage policy must travel farther from home to find a provider that accepts this coverage. While more employers are turning to Medicare Advantage policies to save costs, we’re seeing more and more providers not accept this type of coverage.

Rural areas tend to have fewer providers, but we see this trend in urban areas as well.

As health care costs rise, it will likely become more challenging to keep our hospitals open and provide quality health care to everyone, especially those who are live in rural areas.

I remain committed to finding ways to help reduce health care costs. Adjusting Medicaid reimbursement rates would be an important step to alleviate some of the pressure. If providers can lose less money providing treatments to Medicaid and Medicare patients, those with private insurance will have less to absorb.

In exchange, insurers won’t have to use programs like Medicare Advantage to find premiums that are attractive to employers. I sponsored an interim study to explore Nebraskas provider rates and solutions to this problem.

I look forward to continuing to hear from you on the issues that are important to you. It has been an honor to serve as your state senator and I will continue to do my best to make a positive difference for the District and State. You can contact me at mjacobson@leg.ne.gov or call my legislative office at 402-471-2729.

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