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THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Location: Douglas, Coffee Co., The Other Georgia, United States

Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cost to insure surges higher

From the ajc:

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 has already brought significant changes to the nation’s health care system.

Those changes are most evident in the “patient protection” part of the law. The “affordable care” part, however, is expected to be a greater challenge.

Metro Atlanta’s large employers watched the per-employee cost of health insurance go up by 140 percent during the past decade, from $3,877 in 2001 to a projected $9,316 for 2011. The employee’s contribution went up as much as 275 percent during that same period, and those costs won’t be slowing down in 2011: Hewitt Associates forecasts that the per-worker cost of coverage next year will go up another 8.7 percent, the biggest jump in six years.

And that’s just the view from big companies. People who must resort to individual or small-group insurance plans are seeing equally dramatic increases: Since 2009, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia has notified the state of its plan to raise premiums on 21 plans covering more than 180,000 Georgia individuals and families. The average increase: 20 percent.

The first provisions of the law, which took effect in September, ban lifetime caps on benefits and no longer allow insurers to consider pre-existing conditions of children when writing coverage. Insurers must also pick up the tab for preventive services, without charging consumers co-insurance or co-payments, and allow parents to add adult children up to age 26 to their policies.

Some states already closely review price increases, with about half requiring insurers to get state approval before increasing premiums.

Georgia does not.

State law requires only that insurers notify the state insurance commissioner of plans to increase premiums for individual policies.

At least for now, more aggressive reviews are not likely. Georgia was one of five states that did not even apply for a $1 million federal grant available to help each state beef up its rate review system.

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