Why Most Health-Care Costs Are on the Rise

September 20 2010, 9:52 AM

Last week, it was reported that a record number of people across the United States—50 million, or 16.7 percent of Americans—have no health insurance. There are many reasons for the trend, from unemployment to the recession. But, as USA Today points out, the number one driver of the increase is the rising cost of medical insurance, as workers today shell out an average of 47 percent more for health coverage than they did in 2005.

Now, several major health-insurance companies in Colorado—Anthem, Aetna, Cigna, and Humana—are raising rates and ending some individual insurance plans for children, reports The Denver Post. UnitedHealthcare, for instance, will seek an 8.3 percent increase in large-group plans and 20.5 percent increases in another plan for individuals. Aetna is asking for 12.5 percent more in one of its plans and 26.4 percent in another. Yet, a few group plans sought rate decreases.

"It's really kind of bizarre," says state rates examiner Tom Abel. "We're getting a very wide range. Nobody is consistent. It's very troubling to us."

Some health insurance companies are blaming the new health-care-reform laws, while others say the cost of care is simply rising and consumers must bear the burden. But consumers have rebelled before. When Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s rates provoked an "exceptional" number of complaints after hikes in 2009 and earlier this year, state regulators stepped in, and the company recently agreed to credit $20 million to the affected individual-market health-care customers, writes the Denver Business Journal. Anthem admits no wrongdoing in the settlement.