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Paying the Price for Health Insurance: As Rates Rise Americans Lose

Armen Hareyan's picture

The rising cost of health insurance is nothing to take lightly. As politicians continue their stalemate on health insurance reform, providers like Anthem Blue Cross of California are taking matters into their own hands and the results are not pretty. Anthem recently announced as much as 39 percent price hike on insurance premiums for individuals. Across the country, many companies are following suit.

What does this mean for the individual? Health insurance rates have always been high. In reality, no legislation can prevent providers from raising their prices. They can and do raise prices at will.

With the ever-present threat of a filibuster looming from the Republican side, health care reform looks to be all but dead. Health insurance providers are still taking preemptive measures to ensure profit if reform becomes a reality.

The problem, however, is that with individual rates rising, many Americans simply cannot pay for health insurance. For healthy Americans, the money spent on insurance is better spent on necessities such as food or rent. For health insurance providers it creates a veritable Catch-22 situation: with more people opting out, the pool becomes smaller thus forcing providers to drive up rates and causing even more people to stop paying.

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California’s Anthem Blue is not the only case of ridiculous rate hikes. Though the 39 percent increase is an extreme, rates in Maine are set to rise. In Oregon last year, insurance costs were raised more than 9 percent.

The trend indicates an untenable situation. While health insurance companies argue that the change is indeed necessary, Americans simply do not believe. Rather, they are more inclined to believe the motivation is greed rather than covering the rising costs of health care.

Companies like Anthem Blue Cross are turning a profit while many Americans are struggling to find jobs. Of course, if health insurance companies continue on this path, only the rich will be able to afford health insurance while even more Americans accrue debt from health care costs.

President Obama addressed the issue with a warning that the Anthem Blue move is merely “a preview of coming attractions”. The writing is on the wall. Health care reform needs to happen sooner rather than later. Americans and the nation as a whole simply cannot afford the consequences.

Written by Lani Shadduck