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Survey finds group-health insurance rates climbing nationwide

Individual policyholders may be dealing with the steepest premium increases across the country, but small, medium and large employers are seeing group medical coverage rate increases--and passing on some of those costs via higher deductibles and co-pays, according to the June Employee Benefits Market Survey from the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers (CIAB) in Washington, D.C.

Eighty-six percent of surveyed benefits consultants reported price increases for small businesses (50 or fewer employees), with more than 50 percent of the increases in the 11 percent to 20 percent range. Ninety-three percent of consultants reported price increases for medium accounts (51 to 500 employees), with 58 percent of the increases in the range of 6 percent to 15 percent. Consultants also saw price increases for large businesses (501 or more employees): 51 percent in the 6 percent to 15 percent range, 25 percent in the 6 percent to 10 percent range, and 16 percent in the 11 percent to 15 percent range.

Given that data, Massachusetts appears to have gotten a bargain with Neighborhood Health Plan. The Boston-based health insurer has agreed to a settlement with the state Division of Insurance allowing it to increase premiums by 7.7 percent for small businesses and individual policyholders, reports the Boston Globe. The settlement ends Neighborhood Health's participation in a lawsuit filed by insurers to challenge the state's denial of previously requested double-digit rate increases. Meanwhile, the state's two largest health insurers--Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care--have re-filed rate requests and are again seeking double-digit rate increases for small businesses and individual policyholders.

To learn more:
- read the Business Insurance article
- review the CIAB survey results
- read these Boston Globe articles: article 1 or article 2
- read the Neighborhood Health Plan press release

Related Articles:
Insurance premiums: More double-digit hikes sought in Rhode Island, Michigan and Connecticut
Massachusetts insurers had $2.6 billion surplus at year-end 2008
Health insurers sue Massachusetts over 'premium rate caps'

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