Report: Breathtaking Jump In Insurance Premiums

In 2011, insurance premiums increased by 9 percent — but don't blame health reform
In 2011, insurance premiums increased by 9 percent — but don't blame health reform

...the bad news is pretty bad. Premiums in 2011 jumped by 9 percent, with the average price for employer-provided family coverage topping the $15,000 mark for the first time. Ouch.

Even worse, says Drew Altman, Kaiser Family Foundation president and CEO, is that the increase comes at a time "when wages aren't going up, and in fact wages are actually declining in real terms, and that means that the increase is especially painful this year for working people."

Rovner makes a point of quoting Altman saying that national health reform is not the culprit.

Opponents of the measure "blame everything on what they call Obamacare, including the weather," he says. But he says the foundation's best estimates from the survey are that the costs of the benefits already in effect — largely the young adult coverage and new preventive care without copays — are responsible for between 1 and 2 percentage points of the 9 percent increase.

He says the rest may have been the result of insurers gearing their premiums "to an expectation that the use of health services would go up because of an economic recovery that was starting and then it didn't happen."

This program aired on September 27, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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Rachel Zimmerman Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 



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