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Health Care Rates Continue to Rise Despite Washington's Efforts


America’s ailing health care system is going through some drastic changes. The country’s five largest health insurance providers have taken a near stranglehold on the insurance market, increasing premiums and rates to ridiculous levels. Anthem Blue Cross of California has been the cause of the outrage, with its planned hike of up to 39 percent for individual plans.

Anthem’s parent company, Wellpoint cites increasing health care costs and the shrinking number of young people in their health plan pools as the reason behind the rate hikes. For insurance providers, individual policies remain difficult to manage.

Anthem faced tough questioning from a Congressional panel last week as politicians seek to stop Anthem and other health insurance providers from excessive increases in health insurance plans. It turns out, Anthem wants to decrease the number of individual policies under managed care and switch them to high deductible plans.

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Such a shift would make it difficult for any individual to afford, especially the current economic situation. The effect would be that individuals really aren’t benefiting much from their insurance plan. The average individual would never reach their deductible in a given year.

Health insurance providers such as Anthem have become Washington’s latest villain. The uproar caused by their price gouging has prompted many providers to think twice about rate hikes. Anthem has agreed to put of their increases for another month.

The House actually broke through partisan politics and passed legislation to repeal a bill exempting health insurance providers from federal anti-trust laws. President Obama proposed health care reform has received a breath of fresh air from the controversy. Indeed, his plan includes a Health Insurance Rate Authority, who would monitor increases in health insurance rates much like the pay czar Obama put in place following the failure of the banks.

Though health care reform still has a long way to go before it becomes reality, the growing concern over health care costs and health insurance should be a catalyst for change sooner rather than later.