These can be particularly severe when you bump up into the next five-year "age band." Health insurance, which varies dramatically by age, is priced in 5-year groups. In other words, turning from 58 to 59 won't increase your rates more than usual, but turning from 59 to 60 will. These increases -- coming on top of annual rate hikes -- can be a very tough burden on folks who find themselves paying more and more for fewer and fewer benefits.
Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreider has issued an open letter to the state's health insurance consumers. From it:
Many of you have contacted me about your frustration at the rising costs of your health insurance. You’re tired of seeing your premium and out-of-pocket costs increase, at the same time you lose benefits. I don’t blame you for being mad. I share your frustration and take your concerns very seriously.Kreidler said that his authority remains too limited, and that he'll be asking state lawmakers for more power to protect consumers and new rules to increase transparency, so people can see the details of what actually goes into an insurer's rate request. From the letter:
You deserve to know how your premium dollars are being spent and what's driving the cost increases.The good news is that relief is coming; the bad news is that in many cases it won't be until 2014. That's when major provisions of the new federal health care reform law take effect, including a health insurance "exchange" where it's easy to comparison-shop, subsidies to help make insurance affordable, and rate caps based on a percentage of salary.
Here's a link to the full text.