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Insurers, Backing Down, Post Rake Hikes Only In Single Digits

State residents who buy insurance on their own or get it through a small employer should not see premiums increase more than 10 percent when they renew this spring, reports WBUR’s Martha Bebinger.

To avoid a repeat of last spring’s public battle with Gov. Deval Patrick over double-digit insurance rate hikes, insurers filed increases under 10 percent.

Most say that while health care costs have dropped a bit, insurers still lose money on these rates. But Undersecretary for Consumer Affairs Barbara Anthony said that on the contrary, these rates prove insurers and providers can lower their costs.

“We have to get away from this, ‘the sky is falling, the earth is opening up,’ because we want health insurance rates to be lower than these huge double-digit increases,” Anthony said. “I challenge anyone to tell me what has gone up in terms of double digits and the answer is nothing.”

Anthony said lower rates saved individuals and small businesses $107 million last year.

See below for a chart comparing the average weighted base insurance rate increases for small-group health insurance from April 2010 to April 2011: