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Health insurers seek rate hikes, citing new reform law

The Denver Post, September 20, 2010

Health-insurance companies are raising rates in Colorado, ending sales of child-only policies and blaming their actions in part on the federal health reform law, moves that regulators call "bizarre" and consumer advocates are vowing to watch.

The election-season changes by insurers come as Democrats and Republicans escalate harsh rhetoric on the reforms passed in March.

The White House has already warned companies against unjustified rate hikes.

At least six major companies — including Anthem, Aetna, Cigna and Humana — have said they will stop writing new policies for individual children not covered by their parents' or other plans, insurance officials said.

They blamed health reform mandates taking effect Thursday requiring companies that write such policies as of that date to also cover sick children up to age 19.

Some of the same insurers, meanwhile, have filed proposed rate increases with Colorado for individual policies, hiking premiums by up to 27 percent, regulators said.

UnitedHealthcare has asked for an 8.3 percent increase in large-group plans, affecting 71,400 people; it also asked for 20.5 percent increases for 241 individuals.

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