Healthcare plans raise price after quote

Feb. 19, 2013 at 11:51 PM
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SUNNYVALE, Calif., Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Eighty percent of U.S. health insurance plans raise premiums above the original quoted price for a portion of their applicants, a health consumer firm says.

Kev Coleman, head of research & data at HealthPocket, a website that compares and ranks all health plans available, said the analysis found on average, plans increased premiums for 18 percent of applicants. However, plans in some states rarely increase premium.

Pennsylvania health insurance plans raised premiums for 32 percent of applicants. Premiums are typically the largest out-of-pocket healthcare costs for the average consumer and a major factor in health plan selection, Coleman said.

Companies that increased premiums on applicants most frequently were for-profit Blue Cross Blue Shield companies. Anthem Health Plans in Virginia, part of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, raised premiums for more than two-thirds of applicants. The non-profit PacificSource Health Plans in Idaho was second highest within this ranking, Coleman said.

"Consumers cannot objectively compare health insurance premiums prior to application because insurers base their initial rates on the healthiest applicants, and for many these rates would not apply," Coleman said in a statement. "When insurers wait until an application is reviewed to reveal the true monthly premium, it is impossible for consumers to know what health insurance plan is the least expensive for their circumstances."

HealthPocket said the analysis involved 10,817 health insurance plans for individuals and families age 65 and under.

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