Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Hint: It's Not the Affordable Care Act

Why the Jump in Health Insurance Premiums?

Health Care Reform and Health Insurance Cost continued...

"These are changes that really needed to be made," Collins tells WebMD. "Kids who go off parents' policies at 19 and can't find a job are very costly to the health system. And obviously people don't want to blow through their benefits if they need something like cancer treatment. The span-of-life benefit affected 38 million people."

America's Health Insurance Plans, the trade group that represents the health insurance industry, puts health reform well down its list of factors driving up premiums.

Why Health Insurance Premiums Went Up

So if it wasn't health care reform, what did cause the spike in health insurance premiums?

The AHIP and other experts agree: The price of health care is going up faster than inflation, and much faster than wage growth.

According to a Standard & Poor analysis, health care costs covered by commercial insurers went up 7.73% in the year ending July 2011.

"The big issue is that health care costs continue to climb faster than the rest of the economy," Collins says.

Levitt notes that insurers have to predict in advance what their costs will be. In 2011, he says, they guessed wrong.

"This year many insurers guessed costs would go up faster than they actually have," he says. "The big factor is the economic downturn. Families are struggling financially, and cutting back on health care. Insurers and many of us thought the downturn was ending, and that people would seek health care they had put off."

The AHIP points out another factor. In harsh economic times, healthy people gamble that they will stay that way and don't buy health insurance. That means people who are insured, as a group, are less healthy and need more health care.

What about greedy insurers gouging customers to ensure high profits? The AHIP says this isn't a factor, and that the average profit margin for health insurers is 4.5%.

Collins says that insurers' administrative costs and profit margins vary widely from company to company. But she notes that the Affordable Care Act will force insurers to spend at least 80% to 85% of premiums on health care.

Latest Health Reform News

Loading …
URAC: Accredited Health Web Site TRUSTe online privacy certification HONcode Seal AdChoices