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Individual Health Insurance Rates in Illinois 60% Higher

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-individual-health-insurance-premiums-mar04,0,223417.story

For the state’s more than half-million consumers in individual health plans, base rates will go up from 8.5 percent to more than 60 percent, according to state data. Base rates do not take into consideration health status, gender, age, place of residence and length of a policy — all factors that could raise premiums further.

In an effort to help consumers know more about insurance rate increases, Illinois is putting the individual rate data online for the first time starting Thursday.

“…the individual market is where an increasing number of people fall when they lose their jobs and become unemployed,” said Illinois Director of Insurance Michael McRaith. “…Because fewer people are employed and fewer employers are offering health insurance, we would expect to see increased applications for individual health insurance.”

it is not uncommon for someone on an individual health policy to pay $1,000 to $2,000 a month in insurance premiums. Big firms commonly pay about $1,000 a month per employee, with the individual employee paying about 20 percent to 30 percent of that amount.

Meanwhile, small businesses also are feeling the effects of rising health care costs, which is prompting the state to make additional insurance data available to consumers.

Phil Rozansky, 54, couldn’t understand why he was handed a 23 percent rate increase last fall from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. He says his nine workers are younger and generally healthy.

“…costs are difficult to contain and manage if you don’t know what the increases are over time,” said Rozansky, president of Chicago ad agency Tower Media. “You have for-profit companies that are taking advantage of the system knowing that there is not a lot of transparency and not a lot of competition. I think it is a smash and grab by the insurance industry to get more profit because they know legislation is coming.”

**on a personal note, a relative of mine who owns a small business said his companies’ insurance premiums increased 30% this year.**

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