News Roundup: Survey Shows Out-Of-Pocket Costs Are Up For Those With Employer Health Insurance

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Alexandra HartOctober 4, 2018 1:19 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Out-of-pocket costs are on the rise for people who get health insurance through an employer. That’s according to the Kaiser Family Foundation Employer Health Benefits Survey released Wednesday. KUT’s Ashley Lopez reports on the findings:

“The survey found that annual premiums for single coverage through an employer increased about three percent. For families, that increase was about five percent. Matthew Rae is a health policy analyst with the Kaiser Family Foundation. He says people with employer-based insurance are also seeing a rise in deductibles.

‘So, the average deductible is increasing about eight times faster than workers’ wages, which means workers who use health-care services are contributing more money towards health care paying their deductible, and it’s eating into worker’s paychecks.’

“Rae says more people also have a plan with deductibles, to begin with. He says deductibles are a key way that employers are cutting costs. According to the survey, about half of Americans get their health insurance through an employer.”

Texas lawmakers are looking for ways to reduce opioid use. That was the focus of a hearing of the Joint Interim Committee on Prescribing and Dispensing Controlled Substances Wednesday at the Texas Capitol.

Members of the Texas House and Senate heard testimony from medical professionals, pharmacy representatives and others about ways to prevent things like doctor shopping and diverting opioids to people to whom they were not prescribed. Solutions could include electronic prescriptions and increasing limits on how much medication doctors can prescribe.

Kristin McGarity testified about her chronic pain condition and cautioned lawmakers to keep in mind patients like her who need dosages at the higher end of the scale.

“If the Legislature can’t find some sort of safe harbor for the very few pain specialists left, I get to explain to my six-year-old why I can’t go to his soccer games anymore, why I can’t go for a walk anymore, because the government seems to regulate medicine based on population-level risk-benefit analysis when it should be individual.”

McGarity also asked legislators to consider that Texans like her are productive, tax-paying citizens because of opioid medication, not in spite of it.

The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 9, but some voters are having problems registering online with the Texas Secretary of State. Voting-advocacy group says it helped process some 2,400 rejected online applications.

State officials say the digital signatures that those people submitted do not comply with state law. Texas is one of 12 states that does not allow online voter registration. Instead, voters can fill out the forms online, but they still must be signed by hand, and submitted in person or by mail or fax.

Those with rejected applications will need to resubmit an application before the Oct. 9 deadline.