HHS Secretary Invites Insurers to Discuss Rate Hikes
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter Feb. 24 to the heads of five insurers—UnitedHealth Group, WellPoint, Aetna, Health Care Service Corporation and CIGNA—inviting them along with leaders from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) to discuss planned premium increases across the country.
In the letter, Sebelius said, “health insurance premium increases are impacting American families and business owners,” and that she is “eager to hear the justification for these increases” from insurance company executives at a meeting she’s hosting on March 3 in Washington, D.C.
“I hope this meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss how health insurance reform can bring down health care costs and fix our broken health insurance system,” Sebelius writes in the letter.
As we reported in the last issue of EdgeBlast, Anthem Blue Cross of California recently announced its intentions to raise premiums for individual plans as much as 39 percent. After Secretary Sebelius and state officials asked for public justification for the increase, however, the insurer announced it was delaying implementation of the increases from March 1 to May 1.
Not satisfied with that, Reuters reports, California Attorney General Jerry Brown on Feb. 25 subpoenaed financial records and other documents from the state’s seven largest health insurance companies (Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross, CIGNA, Health Net, Blue Shield of California, Kaiser Permanente, and PacifiCare). Brown said his office is looking into “possibly illegal practices” among state health insurers and is “very concerned that some of them are unjustly raising premiums and denying payment of legitimate claims.”