Health insurance rate increases happen every year, for just about every policy in the individual market. Although the increases we’ve seen this year are similar to what we’ve seen over the last several years, there have been more questions since the PPACA was signed into law in March about whether federal health care reform is the driving factor for this year’s increases.
To clarify, the Colorado Division of Insurance has released a statement noting that federal health reform is responsible for less than 5% of the total health insurance premium increase in Colorado this year. Commissioner Marcy Morrison noted:
“What we found isn’t surprising: health insurance premiums continue to rise. But what may be eye-opening for some people is that federal health reforms have contributed from zero to a maximum of 5 percent of those increases. It’s not the primary cause for increasing rates.”
This year’s round of rate increases are based mostly on the same factors that have been driving rates for several years: An aging population with overall worsening health, more utilization of health care, and newer, more expensive health care options. In addition, there are factors involving competition for new insureds, with some carriers setting lower-than average rates to attract customers, and then subsequently raising them in later years to keep them in line with the rest of the market. Morrison also noted that both government and private health insurance carriers need to look for more ways to increase their overall efficiency.
The Division of Insurance also released a detailed report showing the various factors that are driving the current round of rate increases, and federal health reform issues are just one of many issues listed.
Our own family’s health insurance premium just increased by nearly 17% last month. We keep our premiums as low as possible by having a $5000 deductible HSA qualified policy, but all policies experience rate increases, regardless of the coverage level. Although 17% seems high, the price we’re now paying is in line with what other carriers are charging for similar coverage, so the premium is still competitive. And our rate increase is in the same general range that it’s been for the last several years. Although federal health care reform will have far-reaching impact on Americans’ health care for years to come, it apparently isn’t having much of an impact on health insurance premiums in Colorado.