Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Health insurance rates way up; Mike Parrish Congressional candidate

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Oct 21, 2016 4:21 AM
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What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, October 21, 2016:

After months of not being a major issue, the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare has once again become a political issue in the presidential and other political campaigns. 

One of the reasons is there are insurance companies dropping out of the federal health insurance exchange where those looking for insurance can shop and compare plans.  Earlier this year, Aetna and UnitedHealth announced they're not offering plans in Pennsylvania.  But perhaps the most significant reason is because rates have gone up significantly.  Here in Pennsylvania, rates will increase an average of 42%.  The Pennsylvania Insurance Commission sets those rates based on information submitted to them by the insurance companies.

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Commissioner Theresa Miller, Pennsylvania Insurance Department

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Theresa Miller appears on Friday's Smart Talk explained the higher rates.

WITF's Election 2016 coverage continues on Friday's Smart Talk as we're joined by Democratic 6th Congressional candidate Mike Parrish.

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Colonel Mike Parrish, Democratic Congressional Candidate, PA-6th

The 6th includes parts of Lebanon, Berks and Chester Counties.

Parrish is running against incumbent Republican Ryan Costello.


On Health Insurance Rates:

When I retired from teaching due to stress related issues, I stayed on the district's Cadillac plan through COBRA.  When COBRA ran out, the plan with the closest coverage was from Highmark Blue Shield of PA at $1178 per month.

The first year of the ACA, Highmark no longer offered that plan.  We moved to a plan through Capital Blue Cross of PA.  We paid dearly, as our rates went up 41% to $1668.20 per month or $55 PER DAY!  No dental or vision coverage; $5000 deductible each; Dr. copays of $55 and $85; and our prescription copays  tripled! The budget plans offered were NOT honored by our hospital.

Now I read that Capital Blue is increasing premiums for 2017 an average of 43%!  That would make our premiums $2385 per month or $79 PER DAY!  Who can afford $28,600 in yearly premiums alone, without drastically affecting their Lifestyle?  $2385 per month is more than double any mortgage we have ever had!  

Respectfully frustrated and irate,  Joel 

Please ask the commissioner about the effect of enrollment/participation of the young healthy people in PA on the rates.  I believe part of the problem is that the enrollment of the healthy people has not met expectations and therefore the cost of covering the people that have enrolled has not been balanced out with the premiums of the healthy people.                         -anon

Mr. Trump's main solution to the problems with Obamacare seems to be that he'll allow insurance companies to sell across state lines.  Do you think this will make a significant difference and if so why.                                                                                                        -Jim

Regarding ER visits on the rise, I have trouble deciding if I should go to an Urgent care versus an ER and part of the problem is potentially paying 2 copays.  If you go to an Urgent care and pay a copay BUT the Urgent care refers you to the ER, many health plans insist that you pay both copays. In questionable situations, this encourages a person to just go to the ER so that you don't have to pay for both copays.  I am not certain how often this happens to other people, however, it has been a factor in my decision making process.  The new PEBTF benefits will work in this same way and it will be a change for most people in PEBTF.  Maybe the commissioner can add this to the list of things to address?          - anon



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