Reform not to blame for insurance premium hikes

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Health premiums continue to rise, but the Divison of Insurance says reform measures have very little to do with those increases.

Marcy Morrison, commissioner of insurance, said she decided to set the record straight to address rumors that premium increases were due to federal health care reform legislation.

“It’s a hot issue for many people, and we figured the best way to address the rumors was to publish the facts, so people could see for themselves what is driving the price of reform,” she said.

The maximum amount reform is to blame: 5 percent, she said.

“What may be eye-opening for some popele is that federal health reforms have contributed from zero to a maximum of 5 percent of those increases,” she said. “It’s not the primary cause for increasing rates.”

A variety of facotrs contriube to health rate increases in past year — and those same facotrs are driving current increases. People are scheduling more doctor visits, receiving more tests and more expensive lab tests, the overall population is aging, while the average health status of Americans is decreasing.

Medical advances are a contributing factor, the companies who are providing health benefits are filing higher rates for a number of reasons unrelated to use of medical services.

“We see companies who use aggressive pricing at one point to be competitive, but they will adjust premiums in future filings to increase their profits the following year,” she said. “There needs to be a balance between what companies charge and what the public can afford in order to buy health coverage.”

Morrison said there were “inefficiencies that need to be corrected.”

“While federal changes have minimally affected premium costs, numerous other factors are more significant,” she said.

More than 90 companies sold some type of major health coverage in Colorado in 2009. Ech product requires a separate rate filing and review.