Posts Tagged - ‘health insurance rates’

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Should Obama Use Executive Orders To Ban Health Insurance Plans From Increasing Rates?

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

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In preparation for healthcare reform regulations that will end up cutting into their profits, insurers are sharply increasing rates while they still can. While Department of Health and Human Services head Kathleen Sebelius has criticized their opportunism–which allegedly goes beyond the actual rise of health care costs–right now, her words have no teeth.

The increases are lowering already shaky public support for the law. What can the Obama administration do? A consumer watchdog group is recommending that the President issue an executive order to freeze health insurance plans‘ premiums until the rate review provisions go into effect in the next plan year.

According to the Supreme Court, presidents are allowed to do so. However, taking that course of action would be politically risky–many already believe that his administration is taking too much control over the health insurance industry.

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Pennsylvania Insurer Wants Health Insurance Plan Rate Hikes

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
health insurance plan

As of January 1st, your health insurance plan could become more expensive if you live in certain regions of Pennsylvania.

Blue Cross of Northeast Pennsylvania wants up to $10 million worth of premium hikes. For now, eight plans would be affected, including those targeted towards lower-income individuals–including a guaranteed issue policy for the recently unemployed. Some of the plans are subsidized.

Pennsylvania health insurance customers have one month to comment on the proposal before the state’s insurance department makes a decision on BCNEPA’s request..

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Federal Grant To Review Illinois Health Insurance Premiums?

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

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Over the past several years, Illinois health insurance rates have risen significantly. Like many other states, their insurance department has been overburdened and unable to investigate premium increases.

States have been criticized for rubber-stamping health insurers’ requests in the past. Illinois is looking for a $1 million federal grant from the healthcare reform law to analyze and collect information about health insurance premiums in the state. Their intention is to better determine which would be considered reasonable, and which should be deemed unconscionable–higher than both the medical inflation rate and national averages.

If the state’s application is approved, they’ll receive the funding next month.

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Utah Individual Health Insurance Rates Go Up

Friday, July 9th, 2010

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Similar to those in other states, Utah health insurance companies are raising their premiums. They blame the Obama administration’s healthcare reform law for forcing them to prepare for decreased profits later.

Although state law allows insurers to charge as much as they believe the market will bear, some consumer advocates are worried that filings for rate increases are considered proprietary business information and kept secret. Therefore, few health insurance buyers know what they’re getting into. Most rate changes aren’t known of unless a policyholder speaks out and complains to the media, as they did in this case.

The federal government is looking to states to strengthen their enforcement and prevent “rate creep”, which makes Democrats look bad in the mid-term election season. Humana has raised Utah individual health insurance rates by 29%, while Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield has increased some Medicare Advantage premiums by 48%.

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Health Insurance Company Harvard Pilgrim Agrees To Lower Rates

Monday, July 5th, 2010

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Regulators have been facing off with health insurance companies over proposed premium increases that the former consider excessive, and the latter think are necessary to continue doing business.

Apparently, compromise is possible. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care agreed to a settlement with the state of Massachusetts that limits their individual and small group health insurance rate increases. The decrease is insignificant: their initial requests ranged from 8% to 12%, while the new deal has increases of 7% to 11%.

Since earlier caps on premiums set by the state were rejected on appeal, the insurer could’ve kept fighting. However, they chose to move on instead–although they will still lose money under the agreement. Thankfully for consumers, Harvard Pilgrim (the second-largest insurance provider in the state) also agreed not to retroactively bill policyholders since April for the higher rates.

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Is The Govt. High Risk Health Insurance Plan Too Expensive?

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

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It looks as if healthcare reform was not the immediate panacea for high-risk patients that many hoped for. The temporary health insurance pools for people with pre-existing conditions have started to go live.

The good news: many of those who have been previously shut out of the market can now purchase a health insurance plan. Unfortunately, that plan may be prohibitively expensive; according to the federal government’s website (HealthCare.gov). Depending on the state–since rates are based on standard premiums in the area–and the person’s age, premiums can vary widely. For example, Florida health insurance rates under the program could be up to $675 per month for a 50 year old!

Although guaranteed issue health insurance can be costly, it pays to shop around. The high-risk pools may not save you as much as you think.

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Math Errors Torpedo California Health Insurance Rate Increases

Friday, June 25th, 2010

The state of California has been a battleground for health insurers recently. First, WellPoint was heavily criticized for proposed small group and individual health insurance increases of over 30%. The highest premium jumps were later withdrawn after the insurance commissioner found mathematical errors. (Smaller increases were eventually approved.)

Now, it looks like history is repeating itself. Aetna had asked for increases that averaged nearly 20% for its California health insurance customers. It has withdrawn its request upon discovering a “human error” in its calculations.

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Did Group or Individual Health Insurance Premiums Rise More In ’09?

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

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According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, those buying individual health insurance have experienced far greater increases in their premiums recently.

Their findings:

  • 77% of those buying health insurance on their own were presented with a price hike
  • On average, those proposed hikes were 20%
  • 16% of those presented with proposed rate increases switched to less generous–and less expensive–health plans, either through the same or a different insurer. Many of the others didn’t switch due to pre-existing conditions that would make finding a different plan difficult.
  • Altogether, the average rate increase (including those who changed plans) was 13%.
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Premium

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

A premium is the monthly charge associated with any health insurance policy. In the vast majority of cases, it does not cover every single medical expense. If it did, the premium would be unacceptably high for most people.

The cost of your monthly premium currently depends on several factors:

  • Your age
  • Your health status
  • Your gender
  • The desired level of coverage
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Pennsylvania Health Insurance Companies Under More Scrutiny

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

With rising health insurance rates and a high unemployment rate that makes it harder for people to afford them, several states have used their regulatory power to take matters into their own hands. The Obama administration is giving grants to states who plan to step up enforcement.

Pennsylvania is the latest to attempt capping rate increases. Democratic Governor Ed Rendell criticized the state’s major health insurers–Independence Blue Cross and Highmark among them–for allegedly gouging consumers by increasing premiums by over half! That is in contrast to the 5% to 10% annual increase in actual medical spending.

Rendell and others accuse Pennsylvania health insurance companies of extracting as much money as possible prior to to the most stringent healthcare reforms taking effect.

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