Green Light Given to Blues Increase

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Small businesses are getting a break of sorts from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

The state's largest private health insurer says it will limit its average premium increase to four percent for businesses with fewer than 100 employees. The limit will apply to rates for preferred provider organizations or traditional fee-for-service plans. Companies must renew their coverage in the fourth quarter.

A company executive says it's the lowest rate increase in ten years. The average rate increase for the same plans in 2004 was ten percent. From 2001 to 2003, the average increase was 18 percent.

The insurer says it can limit increases largely because of state market reform laws that allow insurers to charge less for people who on average need less care.