How insurance companies drive up health care costs - FOX 13 News

How insurance companies drive up health care costs

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Jim and Espie Martin say their health insurance is costing about as much as their home. But we discovered it covers little of their medical needs, and can actually drive up their out-of-pocket costs.

Like many patients, they can wind up paying big premiums, and can still pay higher out-of-pocket costs than if they had no health care coverage at all.

"It doesn't make any sense," said Martin. "I don't understand how they think it's helping the middle class."

They're not alone. Many patients say they're getting burned by high out-of-pocket costs, and we discovered those out-of-pocket costs can go up -- not down -- because they have insurance.

"Well this is a flaw in the system that needs to be changed," said Dr. Robert Koser of Bradenton.

Doctors say they have to charge higher rates for services for insured patients compared to cash-pay patients because it's required in their contracts with the insurance companies.

"Once a patient walks in the door and lets us know they have health care coverage and show us their insurance cards, we're bound now," said medical office manager Mary Beth Koser.

Many patients keep paying those inflated rates from their own pockets because their deductibles are so high, their coverage seldom kicks in.

Some plans on the government health exchange do offer low deductibles, but the Affordable Care Act also allows plans with much higher deductibles that can be difficult to meet without incurring serious health problems.

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