San Diegans to pay higher health care premiums in the new year

Monthly rates to increase roughly 18 percent

SAN DIEGO - Renee Gilbert, who lives in Banker's Hill, knows how important it is to maintain health insurance even if every penny of that insurance comes right out of your own pocket.

 “I don't go to the doctor a lot but I do my annual physicals and exams and things like that,” said Renee Gilbert.

To keep up with those same annual exams Gilbert will have to be willing to pay more in the coming year, at nearly 20 percent more.  That equates to about $75 per month, on top of the $360 per month that she pays now.

“That's just for me,” Gilbert added.  “My child is another couple hundred dollars.”

Just weeks ago, she was told by her insurance company about the rate hike.

“It does affect me,” she added.  “I'm single, I'm a single parent.  All expenses go up every year so it does affect my budget.”

Consumer advocates say the premium hikes are due to healthcare providers attempting to increase their profits with the coming of the nation's Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Insurers say the rate increases are an economic reality, which is necessary as health care costs continue to go up.

“It affects every person who has individual health insurance in California,” said Craig Gussin, president of the San Diego Association of Health Underwriters.

Gussin has helped San Diegans navigate healthcare insurance choices for more than 20 years.

“You know, it's a scary subject because in the past, California has had the eighth lowest rates in the country,” Gussin said.  “New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts had the highest. Our rates have nowhere to go but up.”

But, Gilbert would rather see her rates go down.

“Fixed budget and fixed expenses shouldn't go up that much, so yeah, I think it is unfair,” she said.

Gilbert plans to pour over dozens of pages of providers' rates and switch to another insurance carrier.

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