Self-Insured Premiums Jump By 20%, Triggering Warning From White House

About 10% of respondents in our informal poll yesterday about health insurance said they pay their own premiums, and according to a new poll from Kaiser Survey, three quarters of those people just faced a premium increase of 20% on average. The recent hikes have prompted the White House to say it will “sternly warn industry executives” today that insurers shouldn’t try to use the new health care law as an excuse to gouge customers, according to the New York Times.

In reality, that stern warning is pretty much all it can do, because the new law doesn’t give the government the power to regulate premium rates. The Times says the White House instead plans to keep the pressure on insurers by consistently exposing their pricing strategies to the public.

Although a representative of a health insurance trade group told the Times that premiums are increasing because health care costs are increasing, a spokesperson for an opposing group says the numbers don’t support the claim:

But a report released Monday by Health Care for America Now, a coalition that supports the new law, stressed that the growth in premiums in the first eight years of this decade had far exceeded medical inflation — 97 percent to 39 percent.

“As Law Takes Effect, Obama Gives Insurers a Warning” [New York Times]
“Recent Premium Increases Imposed by Insurers Averaged 20% for People Who Buy Their Own Health Insurance” [Kaiser Survey]