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Cause And Effect

September 08, 2010
9:34 am

na-bh835_ratehi_g_201009072115441According to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, health insurers are letting it be known that they will be filing applications with some states to raise premiums, primarily on policies for individuals and small businesses, between one and nine percent this fall.

The reason for the requested premium increases is not surprising at all.  The portions of the new health reform law that are already going into effect will elevate costs for insurance companies.  Children can stay on their parents’ health insurance policies until age 26.  Co-payments for preventive care are being eliminated.  Lifetime caps on benefits, as well as certain annual coverage caps, are going away.

That’s not to say these changes are undesirable.  These are, in fact, important steps toward achieving a healthier populace.  But they don’t come cost-free.

Unfortunately, though, we’re in an election season and that means that a perfectly logical result to health reform implementation is being accompanied by finger pointing.  A government spokesperson has alreadyaccused  insurers of using the new reform law as an excuse to raise rates.

I would ask the critics a couple of questions.  First, do they believe it is in the best interests of consumers for health insurers to remain economically viable?  And, second, do they believe that additional health benefits have economic value and, if so, who should be paying the cost for making those valuable benefits available?

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