Health insurance premiums still rising fast

While Congress debates health care reform on Capitol Hill, employers throughout the country are bracing for double-digit or high-single-digit health insurance premium increases.

Colorado employers who responded to Mercer’s National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans said that if they made no changes to their current plans, their premiums would rise by 9.3 percent. They expect to lower the premium increase to 6.8 percent by making their plans less generous or by switching health insurers.

CantonRep.com reports that health insurance premiums in Stark County, Ohio, are soaring. One local engineering firm says its premiums will rise 25 percent:

The health insurer for Hammontree & Associates told the engineering firm in Green last month that it was raising premiums for 2010 by 40 percent.

The reason: Three or four of the firm’s 45 staffers had filed costly health care claims in the last two years.

Facing an extraordinary strain on its budget, the company negotiated the premium down to a more palatable increase of 25 percent. But under the plan, its employees’ deductibles will more than double — from $1,250 to $2,400 for families, for example.

About 240 miles northeast of Canton, the Buffalo News reports that western New York health insurance companies will be raising health insurance premiums substantially in the coming months:

Buffalo-based HealthNow is forecasting an average rate increase of 10.2 percent across its entire commercial book of business for 2010, before plan changes by employer groups.

Univera, which is owned by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield of Rochester, is projecting an average increase of 6.9 percent, but that’s after groups change plan features to lower their costs.

Independent Health Association, which released rates several weeks ago, said then that its premiums would rise 10.5 percent, before plan changes.

The story is the same pretty much everywhere–from Pennsylvania to Arizona to Massachusetts to Florida to Wisconsin to New Jersey to Virginia.

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