PREMIUMS: Market Forces Higher Rates For Elderly
Health industry analysts predict that the uncompromising forces of the health care market will continue to drive up health insurance premiums for elderly patients and others prone to high health care costs, while younger and healthier enrollees will likely see reduced rates. USA Today reports that Kaiser Permanente's recent announcement that it will sharply raise premiums for the elderly while decreasing premiums for those age 49 and under signals a trend that has been going on "for some time" and is likely to continue unabated. Beverly Hayon, a spokesperson for Kaiser -- one of the last HMOS to retain the community rating system -- said, "If you use more health care than other people, shouldn't you pay for it? The world has changed, and the marketplace has changed. We have to operate in a competitive manner." Outside of Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont and Washington -- the states that "have passed laws limiting the amount HMOs can charge" high-risk enrollees -- "there is no protection for the elderly in the individual insurance market," according to Judith Feder of Georgetown University (Truby, 10/27).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.