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State Health Exchanges Leaning Toward Insurers

From The Huffington Post:

Wendell Potter–7/14/11 12:29 PM ET

The insurance industry made it abundantly clear this week that it is in the driver’s seat–in both Washington and state capitals — of one of the most important vehicles created by Congress to reform the U.S. health care system.

The Affordable Care Act requires the states to create new marketplaces — “exchanges” — where individuals and small businesses can shop for health insurance. In the 15 months since the law took effect, insurers have lobbied the Obama administration relentlessly to give states the broadest possible latitude in setting up their exchanges. And those insurance companies have been equally relentless at the state level in making sure governors and legislators follow their orders in determining how the exchanges will be operated.

When Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the proposed federal rules governing the exchanges on Monday, insurance executives must have been doing high fives all over the country.

Insurers had several main objectives. First, they did not want the feds to require states to negotiate with health plans on price and benefit design. And they did not want plans that failed to meet certain criteria to be excluded from the exchanges. Insurers did want the states to feel free to appoint people with ties to the industry to run the exchanges. Continue reading

Colorado Learns What’s Really Driving Healthcare Costs


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 4, 2010

Contact: Cameron Lewis, Colorado Division of Insurance, 303.894.2261
Chris Lines, DORA Public Information Officer, 303.894.7873

Federal Health Reform Accounts for less than 5% of Rate Increase in Colorado

Speculation continues to swirl about the effects of Federal Health Care Reform on health insurance premiums, so Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marcy Morrison decided to get answers and set the record straight.

“It’s a hot issue for many people, and we figured the best way to address the rumors was to publish the facts, so people could see for themselves what is driving the price of health insurance,” said Marcy Morrison, Commissioner of Insurance.

The Division of Insurance is in the process of reviewing rates submitted by hundreds of health carriers. Although carriers may submit their rates for approval at any time during the year, the fall months are a peak time, due to the high number of policies which have a January 1 renewal date.

“What we found isn’t surprising: health insurance premiums continue to rise,” Morrison said. “But what may be eye-opening for some people is that federal health reforms have contributed from zero to a maximum of 5 percent of those increases. It’s not the primary cause for increasing rates.”

Morrison said that a variety of factors contributed to health rate increases in past years, and for the most part, those same factors are driving current increases. For example, people are scheduling more doctor visits, receiving more tests and more expensive lab tests, the population overall is aging, and the average health status of Americans is decreasing.

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