All across the United States, health insurance companies like Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Connecticut are meeting with state insurance regulators about premiums. During the past couple of weeks, Anthem proved to Connecticut state regulators an average 18 percent premium increase reflected the requirements of federal health care mandates and increased provider costs.
In a late Friday afternoon shocker (not to me) the Connecticut Department of Insurance approved Anthem’s request for rate increases across the board without changes. Although the average increase was 18 percent, some plans will require an increase of more than 20 percent. The “without changes” part is important, meaning Anthem went into the meetings with solid, irrefutable information to prove their case.
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Now remember back in February when the story about Anthem requesting a 25 percent-plus rate increase? President Obama and many on the White House staff specifically demanded Anthem and other insurance companies justify their price increases in the future.
This week they took the rhetoric up a level. Now they are requesting residents inform the White House and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about fishy stories and chain e-mails. I wonder if this blog post will be reported, or maybe my post about insurance companies being responsible for only 5 percent of premium increases will be “flagged.”
There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to email@example.com.
Here in Connecticut, a pretty “blue” state, you’d think state regulators would push hard against just about any proposed increase. The problem was they could not refute the information provided by Anthem. Anthem was right, premiums had to rise. From the Hartford Courant.
The Connecticut Department of Insurance approved Anthem’s request without changes, including a boost of as much as 22.9 percent just to comply with one provision: eliminating annual spending limits per customer. But it’s unclear how much more customers will pay because of the variety of plans and the complexity of other factors, such as a person’s age. …
Anthem offered a detailed analysis of how much prices would change to offer the new benefits.
For instance, eliminating annual limits for spending on health-plan members will increase prices from 0.5 percent to 22.9 percent, depending on the plan.
Covering the entire cost of preventive care services such as colonoscopies and mammograms will leave some premiums unchanged and raise others by up to 8.5 percent.
Requiring insurers to accept children into individual-market plans regardless of pre-existing conditions will increase rates by 4.8 percent.
Connecticut’s attorney general, Richard Blumenthal (D) – who is running for Senate against Republican candidate Linda McMahon – did not exactly blow a gasket, but of course he thinks the rate increases are massive and unjustified. Tell me Blumenthal, did you even attend the meetings where Anthem proved their case to state regulators? Can you even speak to the actual cost increases or did you just pull page 57 out of the play book and read verbatim?
Back to the Courant…
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal called on Insurance Commissioner Thomas Sullivan “to schedule public hearings on all pending health insurance rate increase requests, ensuring proper analysis and inquiry by consumers, businesses and government officials.”
“Anthem and other insurers are seeking massive, unjustified increases that will crush consumers and companies, especially small businesses, struggling with the worst economic downturn in decades,” Blumenthal said.
Maybe Linda McMahon will have something to say specifically about the actual reason the rates went up?
By the way. This will obviously result in the call to remove the “middle-man” (insurance companies) all together in favor of a single payer system run by another one of those government sponsored entities. But we know that is the end-game for liberal Democrats like Obama, Pelosi, Reid and Frank don’t we?