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Unformatted text preview: February 24, 2010 OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR By ROBERT B. REICH Berkeley, Calif. MY health insurer here in California is Anthem Blue Cross. So far, my group policy hasn’t been affected by Anthem’s planned rate increase of as much as 39 percent for its customers with individual policies — but the trend worries me, as it should everyone. Rates are soaring all over the country. Insurers have been seeking to raise premiums 24 percent in Connecticut, 23 percent in Maine, 20 percent in Oregon and a wallet-popping 56 percent in Michigan. How can insurers raise prices as much as they want without fear of losing customers? Astonishingly, the health insurance industry is exempt from federal antitrust laws, which is why a handful of insurers have become so dominant in their markets that their customers simply have nowhere else to go. But that protection could soon end: President Obama on Tuesday announced his support of a House bill that would repeal health insurers’ antitrust exemption, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled that she would put it toward an immediate vote. This is promising news. Forcing insurers to compete for our business would do at least as much good as the president’s proposal to give the federal government, working with the states, the power to deny or roll back excessive premiums . The fact is that half of the states already have the power to approve rates and they don’t seem to be holding insurers back much. Health insurers like Anthem claim they have to raise rates (as well as co-payments and deductibles) because of the economic downturn. Employers are reducing coverage and cutting payrolls. As a result, more people are buying individual policies, but they tend to be older and sicker. Younger and healthier Americans areare buying individual policies, but they tend to be older and sicker....
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This note was uploaded on 02/25/2012 for the course 360 290 taught by Professor Dankelemen during the Spring '11 term at Rutgers.
- Spring '11