Rising Insurance Rates Burden NH Business Owners

February 25, 2010

CONCORD, N.H. -- Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and some N.H. business owners say record profits at insurance companies have them wondering why they've seen a recent spike in premiums.

Scott Baetz, a small business owner who employs four employees, said he's seen his rates go up 8 to 15 percent every year since 2000.

"We've made a lot of adjustments," said Baetz.

"I think at a time when they are bringing in billions of dollars in profits, to raise rates on families and small businesses just doesn't make sense in these difficult economic times," said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

Shaheen said New Hampshire families have seen increases in premiums of 12 to 13 percent while businesses in the state saw a 17 percent increase in 2009.

Shaheen has asked for a congressional investigation on the reported increases and said she's written letters to WellPoint, Anthem's owner.

Anthem of New Hampshire, Baetz's insurer, said the increases are directly related to the cost of healthcare.

"Healthcare inflation is made up of both the amount of healthcare that we use and then the amount it costs, which has never been higher," said Chris Dugan, of Anthem. "That's why we are seeing the premium increases going forward."

Baetz said the increase has been 20 percent in 2010. In response, he said his company decided to increase it's deductible.

"We are a healthy group, we felt like we could increase our deductible per person and capture a savings by not paying as much monthly," said Baetz.

The plan backfired. Baetz said he already met his new $3,000 deductible with an unexpected family emergency and burned his savings.

"I worry about the day when the health insurance increase is so substantial that we sit together as a team and go 'You know what? Maybe we aren't going to have health insurance now.'"

Meanwhile, WellPoint told News 9 that they're also concerned about the rising costs of healthcare and that they're doing everything possible to work with small businesses to give them the best plans.

Source: WMUR