Between 2008 and 2010, the number of insured employees with annual deductibles of at least $2,000 doubled, now representing about 10% of all covered workers. As a result, it looks like more people are postponing or not seeking medical care. But that hasn’t stopped the health insurance companies from continuing to ask for rate hikes.
The New York Times reports that, while insurers are profiting from policyholders’ reluctance to go out of pocket because of these high deductibles — made worse in many cases by other financial hardships like loss of hours, wages and higher gas costs — these companies are still asking for huge rate increases.
The insurers say they are asking for the double-digit rate increases in advance of expected higher costs to them down the road:
Because they say they expect costs to rebound, insurers have not been shy about asking for higher rates. In Oregon, for example, Regence BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit insurer that is the state’s largest, is asking for a 22 percent increase for policies sold to individuals.
“I think there’s a real concern about a bounce-back, a rebound, in utilization,” the chief medical officer for Aetna tells the Times.
It’s more likely that the insurers are looking at the possible implementation of the health care reform bill which will — unless its detractors have their way — require that everyone get health insurance.
Of course, if the health care legislation does get struck down by the courts, then the insurance companies will lower their rates again, right?