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People who buy health insurance on their own facing steep hikes

Posted Aug 13 2010 3:16am

People who buy health insurance on their own facing steep hikes

Health insurance premiums for individuals who purchase coverage by themselves are soaring, according to a study released Monday. When lawmakers debated the health care reform bill, health insurance companies were trying with a lot of effort to make as much money as they could before the law's provisions kick in. Individuals that are facing sharp increases in their insurance premiums are also trying to conserve money by settling for fewer benefits and higher deductibles. Meanwhile, steadily rising insurance premiums and a drop within the number of employers offering health coverage swelled the ranks of the uninsured by nearly 3 million people in 2009.

Source for this article: People who buy health insurance on their own facing steep hikes

Cost trends of health insurance

Premium hikes for health insurance for individuals far exceed increases in the premiums for employer-sponsored coverage, as outlined by a new survey on health insurance cost trends from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The Associated Press reports that the non-profit foundation said premium hikes for individual coverage averaged 20 percent. Customers who were able to switch to cheaper plans brought the average increase in what individuals are paying for health insurance down to someplace around 13 percent. This year's individual health insurance premium spike completely tops last year's 5 percent average increase for employer-sponsored family coverage. Health insurance cost trends for some of the employer-sponsored single coverage held steady.

Expensive health insurance for individuals

The increasing cost of health insurance for people made news earlier this year when Anthem Blue Cross tried to raise its rates by as much as 39 percent in California. As outlined by the New York Times, the Kaiser study sheds light on how widespread these premium hikes are. According to the New York Times, when the proposed Anthem hikes were met with outrage from federal and state officials, there was little details about how widespread such increases were in other parts of the country. Drew Altman, who was the Kaiser foundation's president and chief executive, told the Times that “The survey shows the steep increases we are reading about over the last a number of months are not just extreme cases.”

Health care reform has a long wait

The Kaiser survey highlights all of the challenges that about 14 million individuals younger than 65 who purchase their coverage within the individual market will face until changes under the health care reform law kick in 2014. By then, all of the Americans may have to have health insurance. 52 percent of respondents within the Kaiser survey who purchase individual health coverage said they would keep their current plan next year, while 32 percent said they weren't certain. 14 percent said that they would probably switch companies to cut costs.

Health insurance programs have high deductibles

Individuals are switching plans to higher deductibles to save money. $ 2,500 is the average deductible. One in four people said their plan had an annual deductible of $ 5,000 or a lot more. The number of those with high deductibles has risen from 39 percent in 2007 to almost 47 percent in 2009.

Health coverage being lost by millions

For the 2.9 million U.S. adults who joined the ranks of the uninsured in 2009, health care reform doesn’t do very much to help them with their current needs. USA Today reports that in 2009 — the latest statistics available — 46.3 million American adults had no health insurance coverage, as outlined by a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's about one in five working-age adults with no health insurance coverage. The percentage of uninsured adults of working age went way up from 19.7 percent to 21.1 percent in 2009, and 58.5 percent of American adults went without insurance for at least part of the year.


Associated Press

New York Times

USA Today

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