California HMO Premiums Above National Average
The average California resident with HMO coverage in 2006 paid $342 in monthly premiums, compared with the national average of $337, according to a report released Wednesday by the California HealthCare Foundation, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Darcé, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/30).
California for the first time does not have the lowest average monthly HMO premiums in the nation, according to the report (Goldeen, Stockton Record, 11/30). Four years ago, the state average was $196, while the national average was $233 (Scott, Los Angeles Daily News, 11/29).
The report also found that the average cost of health insurance premiums in 2006 increased by 8.7% statewide, more than double the 4.2% rate of inflation in California. The average premium increase nationwide was 7.7%.
Historically, HMO premium rates were lowest in California, where half of the state's insured workers are enrolled in HMO plans, compared with 20% of workers nationwide.
The report also found:
- Health insurance premiums for small businesses in California increased by 11%;
- Deductibles for insured California residents have increased; and
- Out-of-pocket costs are capped above a certain level for 71% of workers with single health insurance coverage (Schwanhausser, San Jose Mercury News, 11/30).
The report is based on findings of a survey conducted by the Center for Studying Health System Change, which randomly interviewed 802 employee benefit managers at California companies from April to July (Goldeen, Stockton Record, 11/30).
Health care experts are unsure specifically why HMO premium rates in California are increasing more than the national average but cite tighter regulations in the state as a possible reason.
Paul Haderlein, a benefits expert consultant, said that the aging population might be contributing to the increase because HMOs in California cover a higher percentage of the population compared with the other states (Yi, Los Angeles Times, 11/30). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.