Health insurance costs keep climbing for Virginians

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Health care costs are rising in Virginia, but it could be worse.
A new report from the non-profit research organization Altarum shows private insurance premiums in Virginia skyrocketed 89% from 2008 to 2022.

According to the report, spending in the Commonwealth is less than the national average, which is good news, but little consolation for Virginia families.

“You see the hike and you feel it,” said Devon Artis, a father of two teenagers. “I’m like ‘ouch,’ you know.”

He has felt the pinch as prices on everything continue to rise. Health care costs, he told WAVY, add to the financial strain.

“The American health care system, unfortunately, is known for its inefficiency, and that inefficiency is being passed on to the consumers,” said Old Dominion University Economics Professor Bob McNab.

McNab said while people are paying more for health insurance premiums today, they’re getting less for it than they did 10 years ago.

“If you think about what doctors have to go through to get patients care,” McNab said, “they’re often fighting with that middleman in terms of trying to get care approved.”

Some said they didn’t have to go beyond their primary care doctor previously, whereas now, they do.

“I remember my doctor when I grew up, he could diagnose a lot of things and give me medication for it,” said Bobbie Vogelsang. “You didn’t have to go to specialists.”

Now, she and other patients 10 On Your Side spoke with feel lucky to get an appointment at all.

“I mean, you just can’t get in,” Vogelsang said. “You call, and it might be a month, and if you’re sick what do you do?”

And, McNab said, “that means Americans are going to be less healthy, which means that they’ll end up spending more on health care.”

So what is the solution?

“Not to get political, but I just wish there was something that could be done with capping the cost of health care, you know,” Artis told WAVY.

McNab’s advice?

Investigate your insurance options, whether with your employer or on the health care marketplace if you qualify. Take advantage of health care savings accounts and set aside money in case of a medical emergency.

“That’s harder for a lot of Americans than 10, 15 or 20 years ago,” McNab said, “but choices have to be made, and sometimes they’re very hard choices.”

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