Are insurers hiking rates despite health care reform

California's insurance commissioner has called out Anthem Blue Cross of California for an 'excessive' 11 percent premium increase for some customers.

California's insurance commissioner, Dave Jones, is upset about the latest rate hikes for health insurance. And he's using the only real power he's got: Stepping up to a podium and scolding the insurance companies.

In particular, he has called out Anthem Blue Cross of California for an 11 percent premium increase for some customers. But Anthem's double-digit rate hike is consistent with new 2013 rates being rolled out all over the country. Not exactly what the achitects of health care reform had in mind.            

"We are seeing an unexpected spurt of premium increases for small employers and people who obtain policies directly from the insurance company," says Robert Field, a professor of law and health policy at Drexel University.

Insurance companies are claiming the rate increases are due to higher health care costs. But Field, who notes that health care costs are leveling off, is skeptical.

"A more likely scenario is that they are looking to lock in premium increases before Obamacare goes into effect," says Field.

To hear more about how insurance companies are preparing for health care reform, click on the audio player above.

About the author

Jeff Horwich is the interim host of Marketplace Morning Report and a sometime-Marketplace reporter.

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