by Chris Huckins Google+ Email 

 

16 June 2014

Proposition 45 Lets California Veto Unfair Health Insurance Rate Hikes

Posted in Individual Health Insurance

A federal study showed Californians spent less on auto insurance in 2010 than they did in 1989. That's compared to the rest of the United States, which actually spent 43% more in 2010 than the Golden State. Why hasn't health insurance in California decreased the same way?

Anthem Blue Cross president Mark Morgan revealed at a Los Angeles town hall that premiums would rise up to 10% in 2015. At least that's a smaller hike than 2012's, when Anthem proposed increasing rates by 20% for individuals with health insurance in California.

But nobody should just take a rate increase like an overdue colonoscopy. California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, who's up for reelection this fall, reminded voters that Proposition 45, also on November's ballot, would give the California Department of Insurance vetoing power to put a plug in unjust rate hikes. 

While 35 states can block unjust health insurance rate hikes, California can only dream of it. 70% of Californians already support Proposition 45.

In 2013 the public advocacy group Consumer Watchdog partnered with the California Department of Insurance and Commissioner Jones to review health insurance rate hikes.

Consumer Watchdog's founder, Harvey Rosenfield introduced Proposition 103 to California in 1988, which was the successful auto insurance equivalent to 2014's health Proposition 45. Its passage led to Californians spending less on auto insurance today than in the 80s.

Since 1988 Proposition 103 has required insurance companies to publicly justify rate hikes for auto and home insurance, saving California $102 billion. Health insurance may join the club if Prop 45 in California passes. 

Before announcing rates next year would still go up, in April Anthem proposed raising health insurance premiums by 25%, albeit for over 300,000 Californians. That wasn't all they were up to. 

Earlier this year Anthem and its partner company, Wellpoint, spent $12.9 million on the lobbyist group, Californians Against Higher Health Care Costs, to try and block Commissioner Jones' Proposition 45 on Primary Day. That's on top of Kaiser Permanente's and Blue Shield's $23.5 million contribution. The lobbyist group claimed more regulations would require more taxpayer money and raise insurance prices. 

Which do you think will prevent continuous rate hikes: the Insurance Commissioner regulating rate hikes or the insurance companies blocking rate hike regulation?