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Illinois insurance prices rising before health law

Published: Thursday, June 5, 2014 10:33 a.m. CDT

CHICAGO – Health insurance prices in Illinois were increasing by about 10 percent or more annually in the three years before President Barack Obama signed the nation's health care law, according to a report released Thursday.

The report by the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund is meant to help people gauge whether prices for 2015 climb faster or slower than they did before the health care law. It includes trends in 22 states where data was available for health insurance prices for people who buy their own coverage.

Prices for 2015 for Illinois residents won't be announced for months. Insurers now are submitting their health plans to state regulators.

The new report is based on data collected by the National Opinion Research Center and analyzed by economist Jonathan Gruber. He's a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who advised both former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Obama on the development of their health care laws.

In Illinois, base rates for health insurance rose 14.4 percent in 2008, 10.4 percent in 2009 and 9.6 percent in 2010, according to the report.

Comparing average prices before and after the overhaul expanded coverage this year can be tricky because the comparison involves two very different markets. Before 2014, insurers could control costs by excluding people who had expensive conditions or they could decline to cover things like maternity care.

They can no longer exclude these things from major medical coverage. But some temporary funding measures set up by the law will help shield insurers from that added risk.

Insurance experts say it will take a few years to understand pricing in the new markets.

The Commonwealth Fund report: http://bit.ly/1men4D6

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