If ObamaCare is bending the health-care cost curve downward, I'm not seeing it. United Health Care just sent me a letter telling me it is seeking approval from the New York State Insurance department for a 21.9% increase in my 2012 health insurance premiums over 2011, which were already up 9% over 2010, the year that President Obama signed the ironically named "Affordable Care Act" into law.
The explanation that the insurance company offers on its Web site is increased medical costs. The company says, "Reasons for rising costs include advancements in procedures, development of new pharmaceuticals and medical devices, increasing medical costs of a population that is aging and increasingly living with chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes and increased negotiated unit cost rates with our network providers (driven in part by insufficient reimbursement to those providers for those covered under Government health insurance programs and by providing uncompensated care) as well as increased charges for services by non-network providers."
A second part of the explanation: "The medical cost component may also be impacted by changes to the population covered under the product. A part of the medical costs include a pooling mechanism established under NY Insurance Regulation 146 which attempts to equalize risk within the New York small group and individual markets."
As a consolation, my holdings of the Vanguard Health Care Fund are up about 15% year to date versus about 6% for the overall U.S. stock market (credit the Bin Laden Health Care Stock Rally), so I'm getting at least some of the money back in another pocket. Somehow that seems small consolation, but maybe if I had more money invested in that health-care-sector mutual fund I'd feel differently.