Health Care: Must-Read Of The Day

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It’s not just California.

AP reports that insurance companies in at least four states are raising their premiums for individual insurance policies (those that people have to buy themselves, because they don’t get coverage from an employer) by 15% or more. To give you a sense of what we are talking about if these rates go into effect, a family of four in Maine (which is a relatively poor state) can expect to pay $1,876 a month–about $22,500 a year–for health insurance, starting in July.

And this is just the beginning of what we can expect to see pretty much everywhere:

Premiums are far more volatile for individual policies than for those bought by employers and other large groups, which have bargaining clout and a sizable pool of people among which to spread risk. As more people have lost jobs, many who are healthy have decided to go without health insurance or get a bare-bones, high-deductible policy, reducing the amount of premiums insurers receive.

Steep rate hikes in this sliver of the insurance market — about 13 million Americans, as of 2008 — have popped up sporadically for years. Experts see them becoming increasingly common.

“You’re going to see rate increases of 20, 25, 30 percent” for individual health policies in the near term, Sandy Praeger, chairwoman of the health insurance and managed care committee for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, predicted Friday.

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