Sunrise’s Mayor Ryan: Control Cost of Heath Insurance



It is that time again – budget season.  We have to think about those “raises” they ask for, and we give them, year after year.

Some people think these “raises” are a reason we do not compete as effectively internationally.  Why do they ask for, and receive, “raises” far in excess of cost of living increases, year after year?  Actually, we work hard to keep the “raise” as low as possible and feel fortunate if the “raise” we give them is below 10%.   Do you get a 10% “raise” year after year?

Local elected officials are powerless against these organized forces.

You know who I am talking about, right?

No, not teachers, police officers, firefighters or city employees.

No, not the unions.

I am talking about the health insurance industry.

Health Insurance Costs Skyrocket

 Nationally, over the past decade, increases in health insurance costs, or “raises”, have ranged from 7% to over 15%  annually, depending upon the type of plan and which report you read.

Since 1999, it has been reported that premiums for families have gone up 168%!

We are forced to give them “raises” year after year.

Over the past 20 years, annual increases of health insurance costs in the U.S. exceed the experience in virtually every other industrialized country.  No matter the comparison method, we are at or near the highest levels –as a percentage or dollar increases in relation to GDP, various per capita comparisons, etc.   Change the analysis any which way and the conclusion is the same.

Companies Make Big Profits

At the same time, it has been reported that the health insurance industry achieves record profits.  In 2009, it was reported the insurance industry recorded 56% increase in profits; in 2011, again, it was reported the insurance industry achieved record profits.

This phenomenon of huge profits is not a single year anomaly.  These profits are not simply because of a bizarrely successful year of quality underwriting or extraordinary utilization containment.  Instead, these profits are the trend.  Health care costs rise at astronomical rates, far outpacing inflation, GDP growth or any reasonable metric for increase, and the industry reaps record profits.

If we gave police officers, teachers, firefighters or employees raises at 15% or 12% or even 10% year after year, taxpayers would storm “city hall”.  Yet, we are virtually powerless to avoid giving the health insurance industry such “raises”.

Employees cooperatively agree to contribute more, change deductibles, blend rates, use HMO rates as a base, “thinning coverage” and other cost savings strategies.  Concessions by our employees help keep costs down and make the insurance industry “raises” less painful to the taxpayers.

But, the industry keeps asking for more and more.

For cities, taxpayers, families, and businesses, we must find a way to provide quality, economical and dignified comprehensive health care, focused on prevention and intervention, without outpacing the cost of living increases or inflation.

If this cannot be solved nationally or statewide, then we must find an innovative method locally to control the “raises” we give the health insurance industry year after year.

Our taxpayers and employees deserve better.

(Michael Ryan was elected mayor of Sunrise in August, 2010)


11 Responses to “Sunrise’s Mayor Ryan: Control Cost of Heath Insurance”

  1. Mark says:

    Join the Club, Mayor Ryan. The private sector has been dealing with this problem for at least the last couple of decades. And the taxpayer simply cannot afford to keep paying more and more for coverage. Most people, if they are working for the private sector, have increasingly diminishing coverage at increasing rates. And there is nothing that our public “servants” do more than any in the private sector that warrants better treatment.

  2. Sunrise Demo says:

    The president’s health care law is a flawed step towards the goal of making health care more affordable. However, it looks like it will be thrown out as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
    The Republicans’ only idea is to privatize Medicare, roll back health insurance offered by employers and throw the working poor and many middle class into charity cases.
    The real solution is government-run system which would offer everybody health care. This is what almost every country in the world has and operates quite successfully. It will never happen here because of the opposition of special interests.

  3. Sick of Higher Taxes says:

    Ryan should work to end the unbelievable lopsided insurance benefits for police, fire and other city employees. Start with the ridiculous disability benefits. Go from there to charging a more realistic rate for all city employees to pay for their insurance. No freebees any more.

  4. What? says:

    It’s just so hard to digest that a common response (see “Mark” and “Sick of Higher Taxes” above) to a common problem but stated within a public sector context is the “well, join the club – your quality of life should go down the tubes with the rest of us.” Is that going to make you happy, that people who work for the public will suffer? Why don’t ALL people (i.e. private and public sectors) want to join forces to solve the problem at the source – the health insurance industry – and improve service to all? I know, I’m naive. I should know that the “government” and those who work for “it” are the enemies and are just lazy freeloaders. Jeez. Good luck Mayor Ryan. RIP, USA.

  5. WestDavieResident says:

    If Mayor Ryan thinks the insurance companies are making too much profit, he should self-insure the City’s employees and his City will only pay insurance companies for administering his plan. Then his City will also have an incentive to offer Health Savings Accounts so the City’s employees will try to save his taxpayers money by shopping for medical care.

    Or Mayor Ryan can lobby his fellow Democrats in Tallahassee to allow “association plans” in which his city can join together with other municipalities to get more purchasing clout. Just like my business has wanted to join with other small businesses for group purchasing but are not allowed to do so.

    And lastly, he can talk to his Democratic friends in Tallahassee to rid the state of the various required basic coverages which drive up health insurance costs. Then his employees can choose a plan which includes those coverages important to them at the appropriate price.

    As for the Affordable Health Care Act, it is anything but affordable. My firm’s policies have increased 20% in two years thanks to the “free” preventive coverage and similar mandates which were not supposed to affect my plan.

  6. What? says:

    To WestDavieResident: I guess it’s convenient to blame the increase in your firm’s policies on the AHCA. Like, rates were not going up through the roof prior to two years ago, right? Why do you think health care costs were such a big issue in the 2008 election? Maybe the rates would be going up 50% now without the AHCA. I think it’s a little early to be into AHCA cause and effect on costs, other than playing politics. The policy of increasing affordable (“free” if that makes you feel better) preventive coverage could save billions. Otherwise, with costs going way up anyway, less people insured, we’re just looking at spiraling extra costs due to more emergency room “treatment”, and/or more suffering and death.

  7. TO: Sick of Higher Taxes says:

    From my informed understanding, benefits received by the City of Sunrise employees match those of a private sector compnay with 1000 employees. The real problem is the lack of bipartisan health care solutions and insurance companies reaping huge profits.

  8. LMFAO says:

    Buddy, how do you let dumb a$$ statements like “sick of higher taxes” get posted. You have to be a moron to live in this country, I said country not city, and seriously believe that the benefits local cities provide their employees is the problem with the cost of healthcare!

    People like that are precisely why the fatcat medical insurance companies are continually allowed to siphon every last cent out of every person’s pocket, not just the tax payer, and get away with it.

    That person needs to grow up and start placing the blame where it belongs.

  9. Sam the Sham says:

    People have to change their idea of “Health Insurance”. When you buy car insurance, you insure yourself from outlandish repair and accident costs. You don’t insure yourself from maintenance like tires, batteries and oil changes. If we insured ourselves from catastrophic illness and paid out of pocket for our health “Maintenance”, things would be more realistic. Next, we should separate health insurance from employment. Maybe employers should give employees an allowance and let them buy their own insurance. Lastly, government needs to butt out of health and insurance regulations and pricing that are nothing more than “feel good” measures but actually increase everybody’s costs.

  10. More Increases Coming? says:

    “If the Supreme Court upholds the law, but knocks out the mandate requiring almost everyone to buy their products, the industry warns that health care reform will result in higher premiums and less access to coverage.”

  11. East Davie Resident says:

    If you think health care is expensive now, wait till its free from the government. Picture the DMV waiting room at your doctor’s office. What we need is transparency in costs from the hospitals, Rx companies, doctors and insurance companies. Insurance companies run a profit margin of under 10 percent. Most other businesses could not survive with this. PPACA has set maximum loss ratios that state how much an insurance carrier can profit based on the cost of the health care. What it did not really do is talk about how to lower the cost. No one is really talking about how to lower the cost of health care which is the driving force of these increases. Let’s try to not let the tail wag the dog as most politicians on both sides and in the middle would have you believe.