Sebelius Repeats Call for Greater Transparency on Health Insurance Rates
On Monday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to several health insurance company executives repeating a call for greater transparency on their decisions to increase premium rates for individual and small group health policies, Politico's "Live Pulse" reports (Frates, "Live Pulse," Politico, 3/8).
The letter went to the heads of health insurers Aetna, Cigna, Health Care Service, UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint (Heavey, Reuters, 3/8).
Last week, Sebelius met with executives of the five companies and asked them to justify the companies' rate hikes of up to 39% that have affected individual policyholders in at least six states.
She called for greater transparency and requested that the companies post information about the increases online along with supporting financial data (California Healthline, 3/5).
In her letter, Sebelius reiterated the request for health insurance rate information to be available online. She wrote, "Post on your websites the justification for any individual or small group rate increases you have implemented or proposed in 2010, and continue to post such a justification in connection with any future increase" (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 3/8).
Under President Obama's health reform proposal, HHS would have oversight on the premium rate-setting practices of insurers, which the agency currently does not have (Reuters, 3/8).
Media Conference Call
During a media conference call on Monday, Sebelius said, "If insurance companies are going to raise rates, the least they can do is tell us why," adding, "I asked CEOs to post online the actuarial justification for premium hikes so consumers can see why their premiums are skyrocketing" (Japsen, Chicago Tribune, 3/8).She added that insurers would need to provide estimates of rising medical costs and rising use of medical services, the number of customers that would be affected by the premium rate increases and changes in enrollments in different plans over the previous year (CQ HealthBeat, 3/8). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.