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Rate reviews added to House health insurance bill

An add-on to the already lengthy health insurance bill proposed by the House would impose new rules on insurers’ premium increases.

Insurance companies, under the provisions added by Michigan Democrat John Dingell, would have to work with state insurance agencies to justify “any premium increase prior to [its] implementation.” Premium adjustments would have to be prominently posted on insurers’ websites, as well.

The Secretary for Health and Human Services, currently Kathleen Sebelius, would “ensure the public disclosure of information on … increases and justifications.”

The House bill, formally called H.R. 3962, would establish a health insurance exchange in which individuals and small groups could shop for insurance plans. Dingell’s add-on would allow state insurance departments to recommend that health insurance companies be excluded from the exchange – if they were guilty of “a pattern of excessive or unjustified premium increases.”

A study in a health journal earlier this year estimates that gross domestic product will increase 4.1 percent annually between 2008 and 2018. But health care costs will rise 6.2 percent per year, far outpacing the growth of the economy. It’s for this reason that lawmakers are trying to get health insurance premium increases under control.

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Posted: November 4, 2009

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