Stakeholders: Uncapped Premiums, Mandates Will Result in High Costs
Advocates and policymakers are expressing concern that current health care reform proposals would do little to curb the rapidly rising costs of health insurance premiums, the Los Angeles Times reports.Â
Lawmakers generally have shied away from imposing a cap on the amount insurance companies can charge for premiums.
However, most reform proposals would require all U.S. residents to have health insurance, thus forcing the entire population into a single insurance market with unrestrained prices.
Lt. Gov. John Garamendi (D), former California insurance commissioner, said, "We are about to force at least 30 million people into an insurance market where the sharks are circling. Without effective protections, they will be eaten alive."
If insurance premiums continue to rise at their current pace, the annual cost of a family policy will increase from $13,375 to $24,000 during the next 10 years, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust.
Jamie Court, president of Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog, said, "If the government is going to require people to buy an insurance policy, they have to guarantee it is affordable." He added, "It is unconscionable not to."
The combined effects of the coverage mandate and escalating premiums could lead to higher taxes to cover insurance subsidies for low-income populations, according to the Times. In addition, rising premiums could force business groups and their employees to chip in more for employer-based coverage.
Charges Off Limits, Too
Similarly, lawmakers are not considering proposals to give the government authority over what health care providers could charge.Peter Lee, executive director of the Pacific Business Group on Health, said, "That is just too tough a row to hoe in America" (Levey/Oliphant, Los Angeles Times, 9/24). 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.