Schaer: Soaring Health Care Costs Show Need for Reform Bill

(36th LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT) – Assemblyman Gary Schaer on Wednesday said a new report showing health care premiums for family coverage have risen 53 percent on average since 2003 in New Jersey is more evidence of the need for his bill to bring transparency, disclosure and quality assessments to the health care marketplace and reduce costs for consumers and businesses.
The report by the Commonwealth Fund found premiums for family coverage in New Jersey increased 53 percent from 2003 through 2011, to an average of $15,589. For single coverage, premiums increased by 49 percent to $5,673.
“We need to better inform health care consumers of their own financial responsibility should they choose to go out-of-network and ask physicians to disclose, in full, the patient’s financial responsibility prior to a procedure being done,” said Schaer (D-Passaic/Bergen). “We can help New Jerseyans make the right choices. By doing so, we can finally begin to control the cost of health care.”
Schaer urged Gov. Chris Christie to examine and support his bill (A-2751).The bill makes various changes to the way health care costs are administered by providing consumers with comprehensive cost and quality information before they have non-emergent medical procedures performed.
Under the bill, doctors would make clear to patients the cost of a procedure and insurers, via a website, would provide easy access to data on provider and facility quality so consumers can easily review and make decisions about where to receive their healthcare.
The bill was developed in a collaborative manner over the past several years. Schaer invited stakeholders from across the healthcare spectrum to hear their concerns and solutions regarding out-of-network reimbursements and their role in the ever rising cost of health care in New Jersey. Numerous meetings were held to develop legislation which addresses the fundamental issues of disclosure, quality and transparency.
“The governor has targeted the cost of public employee health care, but more attention is needed to the cost of overall health care and how it’s one of the biggest obstacles to our economic growth,” Schaer said. “Although discussing health care is politically difficult, it can no longer be swept under the rug as businesses and governments lay off workers in order to meet escalating and outrageous health care premiums. By lowering costs, we can bring real change to how we provide health coverage, and we can create jobs by making our state more attractive to large and small businesses.”