Corrinne Hess reports in The Business Journal of Milwaukee – that National health care reform will drive up premium costs in the private health insurance markets, particularly for the young and the healthy, according to data from a series of state-level studies from insurance company WellPoint Inc.

The studies have been heavily criticized by Democrats, who are pushing for national health care reform, and provide further evidence of the expected battle over the effort in Washington, D.C., to pass a reform bill by the end of the year.

WellPoint, parent company to Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Wisconsin, was asked by Senate and House Democrats and Republicans from states where the company operates “Blue” plans to figure out what the various reform proposals being debated in Washington would do to decrease or increase costs.

The company ran an actuarial analysis in the 14 states based on actual cases, not averages, and found the vast majority of Wisconsin residents in the individual and small group markets would pay substantially more for health care under reform, said Lawrence Schreiber, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Wisconsin.

“In a world where we’re trying to create a more sustainable health care system, all of the proposals do nothing but increase costs and work to counter that goal,” Schreiber said.

The actuarial analysis found:

  • A healthy 25-year-old male in Milwaukee could expect to see up to a 199 percent premium increase;
  • A family with two kids and an average health history could see up to a 122 percent premium increase;
  • A 60-year-old, less healthy couple would see up to an 11 percent decrease;
  • Small employers would see premium increases or decreases based on their employee population. For example, an employer with eight employees who are young and healthy would see a 53 percent premium increase while an employer with eight employees of average age and health would see a 17 percent increase.
  • Employers with older, less healthy employees would see an 11 percent decrease.

The study clearly demonstrates that the young and healthy would be better off without health care reform and the older, less healthy would be substantially better off with reform, said health care industry observer Andy Serio, president of the Health Care System Consultants Division of The Horton Group, Pewaukee.

Serio said because the current bills being proposed in the House and the Senate don’t address the cost of health care, healthier people will end up subsidizing the less healthy.

“The government is now involved with just rebalancing who pays,” Serio said. “Because health care itself — the delivery and the payment — won’t both be reformed, around 2011 costs will explode because we won’t have anything in place, Medicare reimbursements will be cut and the cost will be shifted to employers again. Things could ultimately get worse.”

Read more at: The Business Journal of Milwaukee