Federal health reform ended some of the most outrageous practices of the health insurance industry. Insurers will no longer be able to cancel people’s coverage when they get sick and need it most, refuse to cover you because you’re not in perfect health, or sell you junk insurance that caps the amount they pay per illness, or per year. All welcome victories in battles Consumer Watchdog has fought against the insurance industry for years.
But the health law failed to fix the biggest problem consumers face when buying health insurance – skyrocketing premiums. It doesn’t cap what insurers can charge, but it does require everyone to prove they have health insurance.
No one should be surprised that the public is outraged when they find out everyone has to buy insurance, but health insurers can charge as much as they want.
Regulators have a few new tools to examine prices, including a rule that health insurers spend more money on health care instead of overhead and profits, and a requirement that insurers publicly justify any unreasonable premiums.
Consumer Watchdog has taken on the thousands of health insurance lobbyists who have trained their firepower on state regulators and the federal Department of Health and Human Services to make these rules as tough and transparent as possible.
They still don’t guarantee affordability. Ultimately, we can’t expect to pay a fair price for health insurance until all insurance companies are required get approval for every rate hike and the public is allowed to challenge any unfair increase.
Read the letters we have sent to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and the Health and Human Services Department on health reform implementation.