Disclosure of Health Insurance Rates in WA

WA mapThe Washington State Insurance Commissioner had quite a battle on his hands with Premera Blue Cross over House Bill 1220, according to the Seattle PI.  Vanessa Ho’s article last month, “Insurance chief on Premera: ‘Cruel charade on public’” detailed the battle.  House Bill 1220 allows the public access to all requests for and details of increases in health insurance rates from insurance companies.  Insurers like Group Health Cooperative and Regence BlueShield had no problem with the bill that helps consumers understand the reason behind health insurance rates increasing.  Consumers have access to insurance companies actuarial formulas and their costs associated with administration and medical services, as well as operating profits and losses.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kriedler questioned the motive behind Premera Blue Cross’ disapproval of House Bill 1220.  Their initial amendment proposal was for the information to become public only if rate increases are accepted by the State Insurance Commission.  After that failed, Premera filed an amendment requesting that the public only see a summary of the information submitted for the rate increase requests, rather than have access to all of the information.  While Premera argues that the summaries release enough information to comply with federal health care reform laws, Commissioner Kriedler thinks that consumers deserve to see all of the information provided to the state during their rate hike requests in order to compare health insurance companies.

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