Health insurers plan hikes, blame Obamacare

Gee, I never expected this!~

Health insurers say they plan to raise premiums for some Americans as a direct result of the health overhaul in coming weeks, complicating Democrats’ efforts to trumpet their signature achievement before the midterm elections.

And as a bonus, it’s going to effect the people who can least afford it!

The rate increases largely apply to policies for individuals and small businesses and don’t include people covered by a big employer or Medicare.

About 9% of Americans buy coverage through the individual market, according to the Census Bureau, and roughly one-fifth of people who get coverage through their employer work at companies with 50 or fewer employees, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
[emphasis mine]

Isn’t this exactly what the Democrats said wouldn’t happen with the Health Care Reform bill? (You know, the one they didn’t actually read before they voted for it?) What everyone with two brain cells to rub together said would happen because of the “cover everybody no matter what” provisions?

Not unexpectedly, the administration is quick to claim shenanigans on the part of the insurance companies.

President Barack Obama’s top health official on Thursday warned the insurance industry that the administration won’t tolerate blaming premium hikes on the new health overhaul law.

“There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a letter to the insurance lobby.

Of course, being the government, they have to back this up with threats.

“Simply stated, we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections,” Sebelius said. She warned that bad actors may be excluded from new health insurance markets that will open in 2014 under the law. They’d lose out on a big pool of customers, as many as 30 million people nationwide.

That’s practically a threat to drive them out of business. The question is, who gets to decide who the “bad actors” are?

Really, the rate increases would seem to be a logical progression, to me.

Although the law’s big expansion of coverage under the law won’t take place until 2014, several new benefits go into effect starting later this month. Lifetime dollar caps on coverage are abolished, and plans must allow parents to keep their children on the policy up to age 26. Many plans will also have to guarantee coverage for children regardless of a medical condition, and provide preventive care with no cost-sharing for the patient.

Insurers are being required by law to add benefits, extend coverage for 4-5 years for children, and to provide coverage for people they know will cost them more than they will recover in premiums. When you drive up their expenses, they will respond by raising prices to maintain their profits. That’s called good business sense. Don’t be surprised when people who are in the business of making money adjust their prices so they can continue making about the same amount of money. Don’t be surprised when they raise prices to make more money than they have been in order to hedge against anticipated future losses – like in 2014 when the health care “reforms” come into effect full force.

If I were in the insurance business right now, do you know what I’d be doing? Raising rates to increase my profits (and income) now, while quietly preparing to get out of the insurance business and start doing something else by late 2013.

[Source 1: Wall Street Journal article, retrieved via Yahoo on 9/9/10]
[Source 2: AP article, retrieved via Yahoo on 9/9/10

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