A new report from a group pushing for health care reform finds health insurance premiums for "working families" in Iowa increased 73% from 2000 to 2007. Betty Ahrens of the Iowa Citizens Action Network says just a few insurance companies hold a "near monopoly" in Iowa, allowing them to raise rates without fear competitors will steal their customers.
"The answer is more efficiency and lower costs," she says. "…The health insurance industry is not delivering those things and if we had senior citizens in the private market we’d see even fewer good health outcomes among senior citizens and the costs would be even higher than they are today."
Ahrens says in many areas Wellmark is the only private insurer from which Iowans can purchase a policy. According to the Iowa Citizens Action Network, Wellmark has 71 percent of the Iowa insurance market. Charlie Wishman, an Iowa Citizens Action Network organizer, says that’s why his group is among those pushing for a government-run "public" health plan.
"One important point is that a public health insurance plan is going to be able to allow people in who are either kept out or who have been kicked out of the private insurance market," Wishman says. According to data from the Iowa Citizens Action Network, the average Iowa employer saw the premiums they paid for their workers’ health insurance rise 68 percent from 2000 to 2007.