Report: Health premiums rose significantly in 2014

By From page A12 | July 30, 2014

SACRAMENTO — California’s insurance commissioner released a report Tuesday showing the cost of health-care premiums increased significantly this year, as he pushes for more authority to regulate those costs.

California’s four largest insurers raised premiums for individuals from at least 22 percent to as much as 88 percent, depending on factors such as age and location, according to the annual report released by Commissioner Dave Jones, a Democrat first elected in 2010. Those figures were calculated comparing the price of an insurer’s mid-quality standard plans in 2014 to the insurer’s most popular plans in 2013.

Earlier this year, thousands of people voiced complaints that new rates would be high, even though the state said 2014 rates would be lower than expected.

The report also came as Jones campaigns for Proposition 45, a measure on the November ballot that would give his office the power to stop rate increases.

Health insurers said Jones’ analysis of rates is faulty because the plans offered through the state marketplace in 2014 are different under the federal health law. They include subsidies for low-income Californians that reduce the premiums and requirements that the policies cover specific treatments such as maternity care and mental health services.

“The (Affordable Care Act) ushered in a new era of health care coverage, opening up access to comprehensive health care to millions who previously could not obtain or could not afford it, and California has seen tremendous success in implementing the law,” California Association of Health Plans Executive Vice President Charles Bacchi said in a prepared statement. “And, while some paid more for this expanded health care coverage, many Californians paid less and benefited from subsidies.”

Jones said many of the requirements were already in place in California, and he pointed to a lack of competition in the marketplace as a reason for price increases.

Opponents of Proposition 45 also object to provisions allowing third-party attorneys to contest rates and win payouts if they prevail.

But Jones countered that without a measure like Proposition 45, “we are going to continue to see rates going up simply because there is no authority to reject excessive rates, there is no requirement to require justifying their rates,” Jones said.

Covered California, the state health insurance marketplace, is scheduled to announce this week which plans will be offered on the exchange and their prices.

Robin Swanson, a spokeswoman for Proposition 45 opponents, says the new report is “as outdated and misleading as the ballot initiative” because of the new price figures.

Jones said he expects health insurers to keep rate increases lower this year to prevent a voter backlash in November.


The Associated Press

The Associated Press


Discussion | 6 comments

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  • JimboJuly 30, 2014 - 5:39 pm

    Exactly like they have done for year after year before ACA even came along.

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  • rlw895July 30, 2014 - 9:17 pm

    ObamaCare was designed to expand coverage, not reduce costs. That's the price we pay for a plan that maintains the private insurance industry instead of a single-payer plan. If we want to contain costs, there are things we can do, but that will have to be ACA II. It's very doubtful it could be ObamaCare II with the Party of No still in control of the House and Senate.

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  • Mr. SmithJuly 30, 2014 - 9:39 pm

    Can't let you get away with that whopper, rlw895. Your president stood before the American people on numerous occasions and stated that the ACA would reduce the healthcare premium for the average family by about $2500.00 per year. Everyone knew that was BS, including Obama. When will you people stop trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear? And making excuses for a failed presidency?

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  • rlw895July 30, 2014 - 9:51 pm

    Mr.S: We've been over that one before. It was demonstrably not true for the average insured family. I don't know how you measure the savings for people who couldn't get insurance at any price, but that could be a big number that would drive the "average" to something like $2,500/year. But that's a useless number. No matter what Obama said, ACA I was not designed to contain cost. The "affordable" part was because it provided insurance to people would couldn't get it or afford it before. But for people already insured who didn't qualify for subsidies, it did basically nothing to reduce cost and in fact increased them. I was aware of that so hardly consider ObamaCare a failure. Obama's presidency will not be considered a failure. We've been over that one before too.

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  • Mr. SmithJuly 30, 2014 - 10:02 pm

    No matter what Obama said, rlw? That's the problem right now. Too many Obama apologists and irrational supporters. The man simply does not have an arm's length relationship with the truth. And yes, his presidency will rank right up there with Jimmy's. Trust me.

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  • rlw895July 30, 2014 - 10:07 pm

    Mr.S: The article isn't about Obama. Stop the obsession.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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