by Chris Huckins Google+ Email 

 

Articles tagged with: Dave Jones California

05 September 2014

16 Percent Says No on Prop 45 and Insurance Regulations

Posted in Latest News

16 Percent Says No on Prop 45 and Insurance Regulations

70% of Californians supports Prop 45 in California, which requires health insurance companies to publicly explain rate increases before they raise your premiums. To play devil's advocate for the 16 Percenters who oppose (and 15% undecided), I checked out what's happening to Proposition 45 in California. 

45 is on the ballot in November just as Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, who supports it, is up for reelection. If 45 passes the Insurance Commissioner can challenge rate hikes he finds excessive or unwarranted and veto them. 

Despite most Californians supporting Prop 45, political ads will attempt to dissuade them. To understand whose ad is on which side, follow the money or just look at the small print of the website/commercial/bumper sticker without causing a collision. 

Major insurance carriers (Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, Kaiser, Healthnet, and United Healthcare) poured $37 million into the lobbying group, "Californians Against Higher Healthcare Costs" to oppose Prop 45. The group's homepage is StopHigherCosts.org.

The Insurance Commissioner rewarded Consumer Watchdog $88,000 to review rate hikes last year. The consumer advocacy group and Commissioner support Prop 45 and so far 70% of Californians concur.

StopHigherCosts.org opined that if Proposition 45 passed, Commissioner Jones would have too much power, labeling him "The Man who would be King" and "Insurance Czar". Did Kaiser Permenente forget what their name means in German?

StopHigherCosts.org added the Commissioner would "have new power over your health plan's treatment options and even what your insurance covers". He would also interfere with Covered California, a new bureaucracy that controls healthcare costs. Covered CA opposes Prop 45.

A July 14th letter from Commissioner Jones to Covered CA's Director, Peter Lee, says that is false. All Prop 45 authorizes is the Commissioner to approve or deny rates. It does not change your health insurance benefits. 

This list of rebuttals from Prop 45 debates highlights the "he said-she said" game being played at voters' expense. At one point, the arguing sides contradict each other claiming Prop 45 creates "More duplicative, costly bureaucracy" and "won't create a new bureaucracy". This is why voter turnout is so bleak. 

Opponents argue that passing Prop 45 would allow trial lawyers or "consumer intervenors" to challenge rate hikes, which means insurance companies must increase rates to pay for legal fees. 

Commissioner Jones reported out of 7,000 property and casualty insurance filings his department saw last year, only 12 were challenged. That's 0.2 percent. P&C, home, and auto insurance premiums have been regulated since Proposition 103 passed in 1988. 

As StopHigherCosts.org reports, Prop 45 sponsors are the same type of lawyers who made $11 million from legal challenges since Prop 103 passed 25 years ago. That's peanuts, compared to the billions Californians saved under Prop 103.

FierceHealthPayer predicted the style of upcoming Prop 45 propaganda. Conservative ads could harp on "more bureaucracy" that leads to higher costs. Liberal messages may assume Prop 45 could interfere with the Affordable Care Act, which has been relatively successful.

Tell us what you think. Are these arguments strong enough to dissuade 70% of Californians who says Yes to Prop 45 or will it take more money?

16 June 2014

Proposition 45 Lets California Veto Unfair Health Insurance Rate Hikes

Posted in Individual Health Insurance

Proposition 45 Lets California Veto Unfair Health Insurance Rate Hikes

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? 

03 May 2013

Health Insurance Rates Spike: But There's Hope for California

Posted in Latest News

Health Insurance Rates Spike: But There's Hope for California

   As temperatures rise like insurance costs in Los Angeles, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (no relation to Marcia Brady's prom date, Davy Jones) turned up the heat on insurance companies by appointing Consumer Watchdog to review unjust rate hikes.

   California's Department of Insurance (CDI) regulates over 1,800 insurance companies and over 333,000 insurance broker agencies, but to tackle rising healthcare costs, CDI can't act alone.

   To supplement CDI's workers who already review rates, California's Commissioner Jones awarded Consumer Watchdog, the nationally-recognized, Santa Monica-based, non-partisan, non-profit (more hyphens coming up) company with a 1-year contract of $88,000 in federal grants. 

   Consumer Watchdog (formerly Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights) is the brainchild of Boston attorney Harvey Rosenfield, who was making $20,000 a year in 1981 and paying over $2800 to insure his crummy Toyota. And boy was he livid about it.

   He moved to California to start up the organization with one goal: roll back all types of insurance by 20%. Rosenfield authored Proposition 103, a measure which would slash rates by 20% for auto, property, casualty, and other types of insurance, and permit insurance companies, who he called "Outlaws", to set rates only by: driving experience, miles traveled annually, and safety record.

   It was an election year in 1985 when Rosenfield began his outlandish grassroots campaign in his Toyota against the insurance companies' marketing war chest of $63 million. His hopes were high, but expectations from others: low.

   When delivering the 500,000 signatures required for Prop 103’s place on the ballot, he memorably surrounded himself with armed guards, not for fear of his life, but for the attention it grabbed. To raise awareness for his cause, he even attempted to deliver a truckload of cow manure to Farmers Insurance Headquarters in Los Angeles. If only they named themselves Marshmallow Insurance.

   His guerrilla marketing, 18-hour days, and threats of dung delivery worked and Prop 103 passed. Independent non-profit, Consumer Federation of America estimates Proposition 103 has saved consumers over $102 billion since 1988. Sadly, it doesn’t prevent health insurance companies from raising premiums unjustly. That’s where Dave Jones steps in.

   In the same week Jones appointed Consumer Watchdog, the country's largest health insurer, United Health Group Inc. seemed to flip off the decision by raising premiums by 8%. Jones condemned this practice, calling it “excessive and unreasonable”, but he’s all bark and no bite.

   While Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) aims to lower healthcare costs, California laws give no power to stop health insurance rate hikes; only review them. Jones hopes to have the power in 2014, when his ballot Prop 45 would grant state officials the power to reject unjust rate increases for health insurance.

   While CDI lacks bite, Consumer Watchdog isn't a neutered animal. As one of the country's most influential advocate groups, it successfully defeated Mercury Insurance's attempt to repeal Proposition 103 in 2010. Will a similar planetary threat war with Prop 45 in 2014? I'm watching you, Uranus Insurance.