The Seattle Times reports that Washington residents can expect a steep hike in the price of individual health insurance plans. While some may be quick to blame the federal overhaul of health insurance, insurance companies and sector regulators disagree. Rather, the anemic economy has undercut state support for health services, which has shifted the burden to insurance providers. Also due to the economy, healthy consumers cut insurance to meet their budget. Healthy people pay into the system but do not require much expense from the insurer. Without them, insurers cannot offset the higher costs expended by unhealthy consumers. Another factor in rising prices is that health care simply costs more than it used to. Furthermore, the health of the individually-insured pool has gotten worse over the years, as baby-boomers age and chronic disease increases.
The prevailing wisdom about the insurance industry is that chronic disease is by far the largest factor contributing to increased premiums.