White House Lashes Insurers Jacking Up Prices

Steep premium increases target individuals who buy policies
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2010 9:32 AM CST
White House Lashes Insurers Jacking Up Prices
President Barack Obama.   (AP Photo)

The White House has begun to call out health insurance companies attempting to drastically raise premiums for Americans who buy policies individually. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will hold a press conference today on the premium hikes, including the 39% increase in California she lambasted last week. A new report also highlights a 23% hike in Maine proposed by Anthem Blue Cross, the same insurer behind the California plan, and a 13% to 16% bump in Rhode Island.

An industry group spokesman tells the Washington Post that the attack is misguided, and “the focus needs to be on the underlying increase in health care costs.” He also says rates are going up because the recession has seen young people stop buying insurance, leaving a more expensive population of policyholders. Sebelius, who managed to buy a 2-month delay on the California hike, wants to use the runaway increases to rally the public around health care reform. (More Kathleen Sebelius stories.)

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