Massachusetts insurance regulators have approved a number of rate increase proposals from some of the state’s largest health insurance companies. Governor Deval Patrick supports the approval, citing rising health care costs that threaten to make an already ill economy more volatile. Consumer advocacy groups have decried the rate increases, saying that they put undue financial stress on those struggling to make ends meet. Regulators, however, have only approved proposals whose increases were less than 9% in the hopes of lightening the impact of higher rates.
Blue Cross Blue Shield has been granted the highest rate increase, coming in at 5.9%. Other companies, including Harvard Pilgrim and Tufts, received approval for increasing at 5.2% and 2.6%, respectively. Both Connecticare and Health New England have decreased their premiums by a slight margin. Regulators note that some high-population areas of the state may see higher rates from insurers.
Regulators claim that the recent rate increases reflect the progress that has been made in slowing the inflation of health insurance. Insurers continue to insist that rising medical and administrative costs are pushing up insurance rates and will further seek action from state legislators to curb the costs before they begin to spiral out of control. This sentiment is shared by Governer Patrick, who is now pressuring lawmakers to fix the problems in the state’s health care system.