From The New York Times
companies across the country are seeking and winning double-digit
increases in premiums for some customers, even though one of the biggest
objectives of the Obama administration’s health
was to stem the rapid rise in insurance costs for consumers.
Particularly vulnerable to the high rates are small businesses and people who do
not have employer-provided insurance and must buy it on their own.
Under the health care law, regulators are now required to review any request for
a rate increase of 10 percent or more; the requests are posted on a federal Web
, along with
While employers may be able to raise deductibles or
co-payments as a way of reducing the cost of premiums, the insurer typically
does not have that flexibility. And because insurers now take into account
someone’s health, age and sex in deciding how much to charge, and whether to
offer coverage at all, people with existing medical conditions are frequently
unable to shop for better policies.
In many of these cases, the costs are increasing
significantly, and the rates therefore cannot be determined to be unreasonable.
“When you’re allowed medical underwriting and to close blocks of business, rate
review will not affect this,” said Lynn Quincy, senior health policy analyst for
The practice of medical underwriting — being able to
consider the health of a prospective policy holder before deciding whether to
offer coverage and what rate to charge — will no longer be permitted after 2014
under the health care law.