In White House Meeting, Sebelius Urges Insurers To Release All Details On Rate Hikes
Insurance companies should disclose more information about how they spend money to justify their rate hikes, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a group of insurance executives during a White House meeting Thursday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. "Sebelius said she asked the companies to file their rate requests online, along with actuarial data that supports those requests, to give transparency and justification for raising the rates" (Carlton, 3/5).
The Financial Times: "The intense focus on the sector -- including a warning by [President Barack Obama] this week that more insurers would deny people coverage who had pre-existing conditions if health reform did not pass -- is part of a concerted effort by the White House to exploit voters' anger at insurance companies' practices" (Kirchgaessner, 3/5).
Hartford Courant: "Obama stopped by briefly at the White House meeting and brought a letter from Natoma Canfield, 50, of Medina, Ohio, a cancer survivor who is self-employed and pays for individual insurance." She wrote to the president "to say her premiums rose 25 percent last year and 40 percent this year, totaling $8,496 in premium payments, which doesn't include out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions, deductibles and co-pays" (Sturdevant, 3/5).
The Associated Press/Los Angeles Times: "Although the insurance industry opposes much of Obama's overhaul plan, the chief executives said they share the administration's concern about rising costs. It's leading their healthiest customers to drop coverage, leaving the companies with a relatively sicker pool of people." The insurance executives do object to a provision of Obama's plan that would give the federal government power to regulate the insurers, including rejecting rate hikes (Sidot, 3/5).
The Wall Street Journal: "Insurers said the drug makers, medical-device makers, hospitals and other health-care companies are driving up the underlying cost of medical care. They said that trying to lower premiums without addressing those costs was destined to fail" (Adamy and Johnson, 3/5).
Reuters: In a CNBC interview later in the day, Aetna's CEO rejected Obama's plan for federal oversight -- in addition to that of states -- regarding insurers' rates. Still, "[a]fter the meeting, CEOs -- in stark contrast to the harsh tone Democrats and insurers have taken in recent months -- said the meeting was positive." An executive for UnitedHealth said, "I do believe it was a constructive exchange. The atmosphere was not contentious." The insurance executives did not say whether they would heed the call for greater transparency, but Sebelius plans to follow up (Heavey, 3/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.