Anthem Study Predicts Steep Rise in Premiums
If current health-reform propsals go through, a healthy 25-year-old man would face a 140 percent hike, it said. Reform advocates blasted the study.
By Jennifer Brown
The Denver Post
Health insurance costs would rise dramatically in Colorado if current federal reform proposals become law, according to an Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield study released Friday.
A healthy 25-year-old man in Denver would face an increase of 140 percent, according to analysis by the insurance company's actuaries, the same people responsible for setting rates. His average monthly premiums would jump from $90 now to $216 after reform.
Reform advocates immediately criticized the study as a "false and futile attempt to derail meaningful health care reform."
The Anthem analysis found that the only people who would benefit from current proposals are the old and sick.
A 60-year-old unhealthy couple in Denver, for example, would see their premiums drop by 22 percent, from $1610 to $1254. The reason relates to an overall evening out of premiums instead of using current practices that allow companies to charge more to insure sick people.
Rates also would rise for small-business owners and families, mostly because the mandate requiring everyone to purchase insurance is too weak, said John Martie, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Colorado.
Current proposals set the penalty for not buying insurance at zero the first year, rising after a few years to $750 --only a fraction of the cost of health insurance. At the same time, insurance companies would have to guarantee coverage to everyone, no matter how sick.
"More people would see rates going up than going down as a result of reform," Martie said.
Anthem executives braced for criticism of the study from reform advocates and Martie asked people not to "leap to conclusions."
"At the end of the day, we're very supportive of reform," he said.
Insurance companies though, are concerned what started as "health care reform" has become "health insurance reform," putting the brunt of the changes on the industry.
Health Care for America Now, a coalition representing the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, Progress-Now, the SEIU and others, called the report misleading and designed to scare Coloradans into accepting the status quo."
"This is another in a series of highly disputed insurance-industry reports threatening huge premium increases," said Dede de Percin, executive director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. "Doctors are not claiming that rates will increase."
The report can be found online at wellpoint.com.
Denver Post, October 24, 2009