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US Insurers Limit Premium Increases, Keep Customers Happy

by Lakshmi Gopal on  August 16, 2011 at 8:05 AM Health Insurance News   - G J E 4
At least two giant health insurers in Massachusetts said on Monday that mounting pressure on the industry for more affordable health insurance has caused them to accept insufficient increases in premiums for small businesses and individuals.
 US Insurers Limit Premium Increases, Keep Customers Happy
US Insurers Limit Premium Increases, Keep Customers Happy
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The companies that made this statement are Blue Cross Blue Shield and Tufts Health Plan. Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts spokeswoman, Tara Murray said the company has agreed to accept less than adequate rates. Blue Cross Blue Shield insures 2.8 million Massachusetts residents. "We understand that the expectation of the community is improving affordability of health care," she added.

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Similarly, a spokeswoman for Tufts Health Plan said the company, which insures about 750,000 Massachusetts residents, agreed to premium increases that are "not sustainable" in part because of an environment in which controlling soaring health care costs has become a key goal of public policymakers.

Blue Cross and Tufts filed to increase base premium rates for newly subscribing and renewing small businesses and individuals by 5.9 percent, the largest increases approved by the Division of Insurance last month. The rates are slated to take effect October 1 and may be adjusted based on the age and geographic location of subscribers. Several other insurers matched the 5.9 percent increase, including Harvard Pilgrim Health Care HMO and United Health Care of New England.

Insurance company officials also credited efforts to incentivize healthy outcomes for patients, to reduce waste and to renegotiate contracts with care providers with tamping down premium increases.

"Harvard Pilgrim agreed to continue to limit premium increases in Massachusetts for small businesses and individuals to help our customers in these trying economic times," the company said in a statement to the News Service. "We call on the provider community to join us by lowering their prices which the Attorney General and the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy have found to be the primary driver of premium increases."

Patrick administration insurance regulators last week hailed the premium rate filings as the lowest in decades, crediting aggressive efforts to curb rising health care costs and promising to consider the solvency of insurers in their review of premium rates.

Source: Medindia
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