Insurance

Thursday, April 19, 2012

 

California Legislative Alerts:

On this page, Consumer Action highlights important California legislation and other state issues relating to insurance.

 

 

NEW: Support insurance reform!

 

Please take a moment sign a petition that would put insurance reform on the California ballot.

Just four insurance companies control 71% of California's market, and they set premiums in secret, behind closed doors. California needs more transparency in insurance pricing, and should empower the state Insurance Commissioner to block excessive premium hikes by health insurers.

California's Insurance Commissioner already is empowered to reject excessive rate hikes for other insurance products, including auto insurance and homeowners insurance. However, the Commissioner cannot reject excessive rate hikes for health insurance.

Why should the Commissioner have this oversight over most insurance products but not the one that Californians spend the most money on?

Currently, California’s Insurance Commissioner can review filings for accuracy and can use the bully pulpit to try to influence insurers, but ultimately lacks real power when it comes to challenging unfair rate increases. And, outside insurance circles, there is relative agreement that many health insurance premium increases are unfair. Last year, for example, Blue Shield announced a plan to increase premiums of about 200,000 Californians by a breathtaking 59%. In the last 10 years, health insurance premiums for California families have gone up 153%, although inflation has been only 29%.

Unnecessary rate hikes hurt all Californians, not just those who are on the receiving end of the "ratejackings". As the skyrocketing costs push health insurance beyond what people can afford, these newly uninsured individuals delay preventative care, become less healthy, and frequently rely on expensive emergency room care that all taxpayers collectively support.

Until it has the authority to hold abusive practices in check, the Department of Insurance lacks key tools necessary to do its job effectively with regard to health insurance. And, even if the department’s future capability to block excessive rate hikes was never exercised, it likely would make insurance companies think twice in their calculations of how much they could gouge their policyholders.

Go to Justify My Rates! to endorse the Ballot Initiative to Justify Health Insurance Rates.

 

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