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Associated Press, Published November 03 2009

BCBS president: health care reform would accelerate insurance cost increases

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota says health care reform measures in Congress would accelerate increases in insurance costs.

Paul von Ebers told the Legislature's interim Industry, Business and Labor Committee that the proposals require companies to offer more benefits than North Dakota customers usually buy.

He says premiums for small insurance groups would go up as much as 70 percent over five years. For the youngest insurance buyers, von Ebers says costs could double.

The federal health legislation requires everyone to have health insurance coverage. But von Ebers says the penalties for not carrying health insurance are relatively small.

He predicts people will buy coverage when they're ill, and drop it when they're healthy. He says that would drive up insurance costs.