July 9, 2009

Health-care cost increases frustrate consumers

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Staying healthy is growing even more costly for Washington residents. Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has approved rate increases of 17 percent for RegenceBlueShield, 13 percent at Group Health and 18 percent at Lifewise Health Plan. Only customers of Premera Blue Cross saw their increase limited to 6 percent. Those numbers are averages. There are outliers, such as Terry Naughton of Quilcene, who faces a 40 percent increase and concludes: “We need a public plan.” Kyung M. Song’s story in the Seattle Times today shows why health-care reform seems more likely in D.C. now than it has for years. Song offers up Seattle resident Gail Petersen, whose family of five will see her $1,400-a-month bill go to $1,700. She likens what’s happening to price fixing: “I would love to see insurance companies have a little competition.” Last we heard, Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, who is on a key committee in the health-care debate, was still waffling on whether she supports a publicly funded option for health care insurance – a position she previously had endorsed in the state Legislature.

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