Mass. Health Insurance Rates Still Rising, But Not So Steeply

WBUR's Martha Bebinger
WBUR's Martha Bebinger

WBUR's Martha Bebinger reports:

Health insurance rates for individuals and small businesses are still going up...but at the lowest rate in recent memory.

The base rates set to take effect in January will increase, on average, 4.8% — well below the 18% averages early last year. Since then, the Patrick administration has limited insurance rate hikes, patients are using less care, and some hospitals are agreeing to lower increases. Barbara Anthony, who runs the state Office of Consumer Affairs, says these rates are progress — but not enough.

"We do want to go to zero," she said. "In a perfect world we'd even see a decline in costs. That's going to take providers stepping up to the plate in a meaningful way."

One note of caution, these are the base rate increases. Insurers will adjust them up based on the experience of each individual and small business.

Health Care For All's Executive Director, Amy Whitcomb Slemmer says the increases are disappointing.

This program aired on November 3, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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