Price hikes hammer individual health coverage

By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- When health insurance costs rise for individual buyers, they soar: The average premium rose 20% in its most recent increase, according to a report released Monday.

About 14 million Americans younger than 65 buy their own individual health plans, rather than purchasing coverage through their employers, said the report from the nonprofit group Kaiser Family Foundation. More than three-quarters of that contingent said they were recently hit with a price hike.

"[This] shows that the steep increases we have been reading about over the last several months are not just extreme cases," Kaiser chief executive Drew Altman said in the report.

Still, only 16% of all non-group policyholders said they switched insurers. And many of those who jumped ship are now getting less coverage: Half of the those who changed said their new plans were inferior to the old ones.

Coverage and cost worries: Individual plan customers carry an average annual deductible of $2,438 -- almost four times the average deductible for common employer-sponsored plans.

As a result, 40% of the individual policyholders said they were "not too confident" or "not at all confident" that they would be able to pay their medical bills.

Kaiser's report surveyed 1,038 people, ages 18-64, who bought their own health coverage. The poll was conducted between March 19 and April 2, during the final congressional debate and enactment of the sweeping health care reform legislation. To top of page

Just the hot list include
Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 24,461.70 -196.10 -0.80%
Nasdaq 7,712.95 -68.56 -0.88%
S&P 500 2,749.76 -17.56 -0.63%
Treasuries 2.90 -0.03 -1.06%
Data as of 4:24pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Advanced Micro Devic... 15.65 -0.87 -5.27%
General Electric Co 12.76 -0.12 -0.93%
Micron Technology In... 59.44 0.49 0.83%
Bank of America Corp... 29.29 0.05 0.17%
AT&T Inc 31.60 -0.40 -1.25%
Data as of 4:02pm ET
Sponsors

Sections

The majority of tax filers will see a federal tax cut this year. But a new analysis finds there can be notable differences in how big the average cuts will be in a given income group based on where filers live. More

Russian trolls posing as an American college student tweeted about divisive social, political and cultural issues using an account that amassed thousands of followers -- and appeared in dozens of news stories published by major media outlets -- as recently as March. More

Thinking of splashing out a lot of money on fancy new car or dream vacation? Ask yourself these six questions to avoid financial chaos. More