Lower Premium Increases from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care

Even though the inflation rate in Massachusetts is expected to increase 1.6%, health insurance premiums are increasing by as much as 10%.  The VP of Blue Cross Blue Shield says that their premium increases are actually at the lowest levels since 2005, but notes that the increases are still not acceptable or sustainable.  Their increases will range from 4 to 6%, Tufts Health Plan will increase premiums 5 to 8%, and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care plans 5 to 10% increases.  This information comes from Boston’s NPR news station’s article, “Mass. Health Insurance Premiums On the Rise,” by Martha Bebinger.

Harvard Pilgrim says that increases aren’t as high as they have been for two reasons.  One is that health insurance companies have been negotiating deals with doctors and hospitals because they are all under pressure to lower costs.  The other is that people are getting fewer procedures and using their health insurance less in many cases.  This may be because they are scared of losing their jobs if they miss work, but it could also be due to the fact that they have to pay a lot out of pocket before their insurance pays the rest.

High deductible health plans have become much more prevalent lately as insurance companies, doctors and hospitals work to cut costs.  Consumers who compare health insurance quotes find that these high deductible plans are helpful in saving money and ensuring people aren’t getting any unnecessary procedures.  Not everyone thinks that all of the responsibility for lowering costs should be put on insurance companies and health care providers though.  Many consumer groups want the state to step in and set prices that insurers and health care providers have to follow.  Whether the state steps in or insurance companies can lower prices on their own remains to be seen.

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