Insurers in Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington state proposed rate increases for plans sold on the individual market of up to 40% last year, according to the report.
Meanwhile, profits for the 10 largest insurers grew by 250% over the past decade—10 times faster than inflation. The five largest insurers had combined profits of $12.2 billion in 2009, up 56% over the year prior, according to the five-page HHS report.
“We don't want insurance companies to be insolvent because then no claims would get paid,” said Sebelius, adding “these profits are wildly excessive.”
In response, Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, the trade group for insurers, said in a statement that “it's time to stop the politics of vilification.” Premiums on the individual market, she said, are going up because of “soaring medical costs and because younger and healthier people are dropping their coverage due to the economy.”
The HHS, members of Congress and others have hammered insurers in recent days for rate increases after it came to light that Anthem Blue Cross of California, a WellPoint subsidiary, plans to raise individual rates by up to 39%. That rate increase is on hold until May while the state insurance commissioner orders an independent actuarial analysis.
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