Editorial: Having additional providers could lower health care costs

Published 8:47 pm Thursday, July 12, 2018

It is no secret that health care costs in southeast Minnesota are some of the highest in the state.

According to the 2018 Health Insurance Rate Summary by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, monthly premiums for a 40-year-old person in 2018 for the benchmark plan under MNsure were $596 in Freeborn, Mower and Steele counties, along with other counties east to the state border.

For the same age person in the counties of Faribault, Waseca, Blue Earth and Martin counties, monthly premiums were listed at $472.

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Even lower were the premiums for the same age person in the metro areas of Hennepin, Carver, Scott, Anoka, Ramsey and Dakota counties with monthly premiums of $327.

The southeastern Minnesota price is 82 percent more expensive than the same plan in the Twin Cities.

The difference in cost is just as stark for families.

For a family of four with 38-year-old parents and children ages 10 and 7, the price for the state’s Silver plan under Medica was listed as $1,988 a month in Albert Lea and $1,231 in Minneapolis. Under Blue Plus, the Silver plan cost was listed as $2,326 for a family in Albert Lea compared to $1,420 for a family in Minneapolis.

High health care costs — whether you purchase your insurance through the state or otherwise — are not only hurting residents but they are also hurting local employers who pay portions of insurance premiums for their employees.

Something must be done to reduce these costs and make health care more affordable.

As the Save Our Healthcare organization recently shifted its focus toward bringing a second provider to town to offer some of the health care services that have shifted to Austin, we are eager to see the results that will come from a financial analysis being conducted on the economic impact a second provider could have on the community.

Specifically, we are eager to see how this could impact not only the cost of services but also the bottom line of our health insurance premiums.

We have choices where we buy groceries, gas and other goods and services in the community. We believe a huge difference could be made in the community simply by having choices for health care.

Competition in the business world ultimately brings better service and better prices, and we have no reason to believe it would be any different with health care.