[…] These numbers are much more in line with the rise in health insurance premiums that we’ve seen over the past few years. I have no explanation for why the data from the two sources is so dramatically different in terms of medical trend in 2010, but if the trend was really closer to 7.5% rather than 1.7%, the health insurance premium increases would be a lot easier to understand. […] In addition to the MLR rules, some states (including Colorado) have implemented strict review processes for rate hikes. The ACA now calls for insurers who propose a rate hike of 10% or more […]
premium increase limits
[…] If the rates are justified, they’ll likely be approved – even if the amount of the increase is distastefully large. The DOI is not trying to keep premiums artificially low or force carriers to cut out legitimate claims expenses. Having rates approved by the DOI does not mean that the people of Colorado get smaller-than-average premium increases. Rather, it means that although our rate increases are sometimes substantial, we know that those rates are justified as a reflection of increasing claims costs.
I’ve long supported the idea that our health care system was in need of reform that would make care more affordable and accessible to everyone, regardless of their health or financial situation. But I’m starting to feel a bit frustrated by what feels like an over-emphasis on regulation of health insurance carriers and not enough focus on ways to actually control the cost of health care (including over-utilization). If people are thinking of this process as health insurance reform rather than health care reform, it’s doomed to failure. […]
[…] even with the new MLR guidelines and a significant review from the Division of Insurance to make sure this year’s rate increases are appropriate, our average rate increase is still nearly 13% – significantly higher than the 10% threshold that would trigger a review under the proposed federal regulation. […]
[…] The Division of Insurance has recently released an extensive FAQ page detailing how the review process works. The page includes data about health insurance premiums in Colorado, how they compare with the rest of the country, and specifics about how the Division of Insurance reviews rate increase proposals from carriers. […]
Many plans with most carriers still haven’t gotten the rates approved past 9/23. These plans with carriers like Anthem BCBS can still be quoted with effective dates of 9/22 and before.
Carriers like Cigna only have 1st and 15th of the month effective date options. Therefore, rates and plans are not being quoted at all until the DOI approves their rates. Hopefully any moment.
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[…] But these numbers would seem to indicate that while Anthem’s rate increase may have been large, it seems to be in line with what other carriers are charging in Colorado. For the little test I conducted, Anthem’s premium was the second-lowest I found, and the only one with a lower premium had an additional thousand dollars in out of pocket exposure.
[…] I will be interested to see more on the Wellpoint story as the rate increases are investigated this spring, but I imagine that it’s not a simple problem or one that has a simple solution. It’s true that Wellpoint is in business to make money. But a dramatic, highly publicized rate increase is bad for business, and it’s hard to explain it away as a company simply trying to raise profits.
[…] People who buy their own health insurance must pay the whole bill, every month. When it’s time for their rate increase, there’s no employer shouldering part of the burden. The option to continue or drop coverage is there every month when it’s time to pay the premium… and if it comes to a decision between the rent or the health insurance, it’s easy to understand how a healthy person might opt to go uninsured.
[…] We know that there are families out there who are paying more than a thousand dollars a month for their health insurance. But they are the exception rather than the rule. The Daily Kos article makes it sound like the average family will end the year with nearly $7000 in their pockets from premium savings, and that just doesn’t add up.
[…] Basically, we can’t have it both ways. If we want smaller government, we have to accept that it comes with fewer regulations. And that means more control in the hands of industry and less in the hands of consumers. If we want regulation over things like premium increases and pre-existing condition limitations, we have to accept that it means more government intervention. In the case of health care and health insurance, we’ve obviously got some flaws in our current system. In some states, a person without access to an employer-sponsored health insurance policy cannot get coverage at all. That is a problem any way you look at it.
Yes, some of the problems stem from personal irresponsibility (although hopefully mandatory health insurance will help to address this issue). But some of the problems are built into the health care system, and that is why reform in the shape of government intervention is such an important task. Because a consumer versus an industry isn’t really a fair match-up.
[…] Critics are questioning why insurers keep bringing up HB1355, as the trend in national health care reform these days is towards guaranteed issue health insurance without underwriting – which is what HB 1355 was all about. But while HB1355 was beneficial to groups with unhealthy members, the majority of small groups in Colorado had a discount before HB1355 took effect. And if those groups are unable to afford their new, higher rates, they can opt to cancel their coverage – which leads to higher prices for groups that remain covered. On a national level, as far as individual health insurance is concerned, HB1355 should be considered a warning sign. Getting rid of medical underwriting is the right, and fair, thing to do. But not if people can come and go as they please in the insurance system. We’ve seen what the impact will be on premiums if guaranteed issue coverage takes effect without a strong mandate requiring people to carry health insurance. I think this is why insurers are still bringing up HB1355. It’s impacting all small groups in Colorado now – there’s no more putting it off. And significant rate hikes for healthy groups should serve as a warning for what we’ll likely see in the individual market if reform passes without a way to make sure that everyone is part of the insurance pool.
How much should age play a part in determining health insurance premiums? That’s a question that lawmakers are debating, and one that might require an answer that is more strategic than it is fair. In general, older people have higher health care bills than younger people. Because of their lower claims, younger people currently pay much lower premiums for health insurance than older people. But they continue to be the most uninsured segment of our population.
In 2007, the Lewin Group released a report for the Colorado Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Reform. It showed that 38.7% of Colorado residents age 19 – 24 were uninsured. This was far more than the next highest category (27.1% of people age 25 – 34 were uninsured). Several factors contribute to the high percentage of young people who are uninsured. They tend to be healthy, and thus aren’t as likely to see the value in health insurance. They tend to work in entry-level jobs that aren’t as likely to provide health insurance benefits. And they usually have lower incomes than older workers, making health insurance – even if it is cheaper for them – harder to afford […]
HB 1389, the Fair Accountable Insurance Rates Act of 2008, has passed the Colorado House and Senate, and is headed to governor Bill Ritter for his signature next month. Health insurance companies doing business in Colorado will now be required to get approval from the state before enacting rate increases, and will have to disclose… Read more about Colorado HB1389 Passes House And Senate
Colorado lawmakers have proposed legislation that would tighten restrictions on health insurance carriers regarding premium increases and the timeliness of claims payment. The bill to limit premium increases was sponsored by state representative Morgan Carroll (D), who cited a 60% increase in health insurance premiums in Colorado between 2001 and 2005. During the same time,… Read more about Colorado Lawmakers Addressing Health Insurance Premium Increases