Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Health insurance rates, by state

Update: (6/20/2013): Here's information on the latest state-by-state breakdown of health insurance premiums and deductibles. And here's information on the rate filings we're getting for 2014.

Here's the original post:

The Commonwealth Fund has put together an interesting state-by-state breakdown of private-employer health insurance premiums and deductibles over the past 6 years.

The upshot: premiums for businesses and their employees rose 41 percent, while per-person deductibles jumped 77 percent. (Continue those trends out to 2020, and an average premium for family coverage will be more than $23,000.) The report also looks at the potential for federal health reform to reduce that cost growth.

This chart shows employer premiums as a percentage of median household income for people under age 65:

In Washington state, the cost of premiums rose 38 percent between 2003 and 2009, with family coverage costing an average of $12,758 here last year.

How's that compare to everyone else? About in the middle. In a list of the 50 states plus Washington, D.C., from highest family premiums to lowest, we come in 28th. (The U.S. average premium for family coverage: $13,027.) Arkansas ($10,969) came in with the lowest rates; Massachusetts ($14,723) with the highest. Oregon's ($12,783) are slightly higher than Washington's.

WA insurance commissioner rejects new Regence rate increase

From a news release our office issued this morning:

After several requests for additional information, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has formally rejected requests to change the rates of individual health plans offered by Regence BlueShield, Regence BlueShield of Oregon and Asuris NW Health (Regence).

The proposed rates were scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2011. Regence has the right to appeal the decision.

Regence BlueShield and Asuris requested 3.7 percent and Regence BlueShield of Oregon requested 4.9 percent.

“I’m disappointed and frustrated that I’ve had to take this step, but Regence’s policyholders are my top priority, said Kreidler. “They’re counting on me to review the rates and make sure they’re justified. Regence failed to make its case.”

See the link above for more information, including links to Regence's rates.

Our North American Dealer Co-Op order -- and what it means if you're a customer

In October, many consumers across Washington received notices from the North American Dealer Co-op (NADC). Our office ordered NADC to send out those notices.

Here’s the background: Washington car dealers would sell people vehicle service contracts, offering a money back guarantee as an incentive to buy them. If you didn’t use the vehicle service contract after a certain period of time and met other conditions, you were promised your money back.

NADC, in essence, insured that money-back guarantee. (The service contracts themselves are a separate product, and are NOT affected by our order. More on that below.) In 2007, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler told the company that they were acting as an unauthorized insurer in Washington state. The company disputed that; a hearing was held and the commissioner’s decision was upheld.

In October 2010, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee affirmed the order, which requires NADC to do the following things:

-Stop offering the program to any Washington auto dealers.

-Send a copy of the order to all member dealers.

-Send a copy to all Washington consumers who’d bought an NADC auto dealer extended service contract reimbursement guarantee.

-Tell consumers that should they file a valid claim against that guarantee when their extended service contract expires, it will be honored.

Here’s the critical thing to know: The underlying vehicle service contract should still be in effect. Those service contracts are a different product, covering repairs to the car. Those contracts are not affected by this order.

Our order does, however, require NADC to honor all valid money-back guarantee claims made for unused service contracts under NADC’s money-back guarantee offer.

If you’re a Washingtonian and have questions or concerns that NADC’s improperly denying your money-back claim, contact us at 1-800-562-6900.

Consumers can also contact:

North American Dealer Co-Op
ATTN: Claims Department
1661 Wadsworth Blvd.
Lakewood, CO 80214