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Health, life insurance companies proposing rate hikes, including in AZ

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A handful of health and life insurance companies have requested rate hikes in Arizona, in some cases wanting 18 percent more to cover increasing healthcare costs, they claim.

If approved, the changes would affect small businesses and people who don't have insurance through their employer and would take effect when renewing an insurance policy or applying for the first time.

"I just think it's bad timing with the economy and the way everything's going," Mark Huerta told us.

We're not talking about 10 or 20 people affected; we're talking about tens of thousands of Arizonans paying more to go to the doctor and fill prescriptions.

"A lot of it's corporate profit, I think," another man told us.

But companies like Aetna and Cigna claim they're requesting rate hikes to cover increasing healthcare costs. Aetna, for example wants to raise insurance for small businesses by 16 percent, which would affect more than 45,000 people. They last raised rates last year by 5 percent. Time Insurance wants to raise individual rates by 17 percent, affecting nearly 10,000 people; this, after a 27 percent rate increase in 2011. And Cigna wants to raise individual rates by 15 percent, which would cost more than 1,500 people an average of $76 more. They, too, raised rates in 2011 by 24 percent.

"Now I'm wondering, when can I go to the doctor?" Huerta asked. "How often can I go? So it's really changing everything up."

These companies are justifying the hikes by saying their revenue is no longer covering their administration expenses and healthcare costs. But it seems the average Joe is the one left feeling the pain.

"It's not like it used to be where things used to go generic really fast, they're keeping name brands out longer now," a man told us.

The Arizona Department of Insurance doesn't impose any limits on how often an insurance company can raise rates. It also doesn't approve or disapprove rate hikes. These rates increases are being reviewed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To see if you'll be affected, visit: http://companyprofiles.healthcare.gov/states/AZ/rate_reviews?search_method=rate_reviews.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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