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The Catch: Nov. 2

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EHealth Inc. says the amounts its customers pay for health coverage are considerably lower than the group health averages typically reported but increasing rapidly.

EHealth, Mountain View, Calif. (NYSE:EHTH), is the parent of, a large Web-based health insurance broker.

The compared health coverage data for 384,000 individual and family major medical policies that were active in February 2011 with 384,000 individual and family major medical policies that were active in February 2010.

Sponsors of group health surveys often say the participants in their surveys are paying about $1,000 per month for coverage for each employee with family coverage.

EHealth customers are paying about $183 per month for individual coverage and $414 per month for family coverage, the company says.

But the average premium increased 9.6% for individuals and 5.6% for families.

The average individual deductible increased 11.5%, to $2,935, and the average family deductible increased 9.9%, to $3,879.

About 17% of the policies sold were compatible with the health savings account program.

More than 85% of the plans already offer preventive services benefits such as coverage for ob/gyn exams and well-baby coverage.


The Office of the Insurance Commissioner in Washington state has developed a Web-based service that can let people know if a health insurance company’s rates might be changing.

The commissioner’s office has developed a tool that will notify a user when a carrier has asked for a rate change and when a change has actually been made. Users also can use the tool to post comments about proposed rate changes that are under review.

The tool provides information for individual policies and small group policies.


Extend Health Inc., San Mateo, Calif., says the percentage of U.S. seniors who are confident that MEdicare will be there for the rest of their lives has increased to 73% in October, from 57% in July.

Extend Health has based the latest counterintuitive survey results on a survey of 373 U.S. residents ages 65 and older who have Medicare.

Extend Health conducted all three surveys while members of Congress have been debating whether to reorganize Medicare in an effort to get control over the federal budget deficit.

Extend Health also has published other survey results that help explain the seniors’ answers: The survey participants are confident that they will have Medicare but not as confident about whether their children will have Medicare.

The percentage of participants who said they were “not confident” that Medicare would be there for their children increased to 47% in October, from 44% in July.

Interpretation: It seems as possible that as many as 53% of Americans over age 65 are extremely optimistic people, or live in caves that have telephone service but no access to news.