HHS: Some health ins. premiums soaring

Feb. 18, 2010 at 8:33 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- As some health insurance premiums soar, some U.S. families no longer can afford health insurance, the secretary of health and human services said.

Kathleen Sibelius, secretary of health and human services, said in a public statement that Anthem Blue Cross of California, an insurance company owned by the for-profit company WellPoint Inc., announced that its individual premiums would rise by as much as 39 percent in the coming months.

"Rising health insurance premiums are disturbing examples of the problems that make reforming our health insurance system more important than ever," Sibelius said.

"This increase isn't unique and across the country, families have seen their premiums skyrocket in recent years," Sibelius said. Sandy Praeger, a leader of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, predicts "rate increases of 20 percent, 25 percent, 30 percent."

WellPoint and others claim that the premium increases are necessary given the rise in healthcare costs. "While rising healthcare costs is a known problem with our broken healthcare system, some of the premium increases requested by insurance companies are five to 10 times larger than the growth rate in national health expenditures," the statement said.

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