HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a letter to major insurance companies asked them to follow up on a request she made to the industry at the White House last week: to publicly justify any proposed health insurance premium increases.
Justify rate hikes publicly, Sebelius tells insurers
In meeting with President Barack Obama and five major health insurers at the White House on March 4, Sebelius had asked the executives to post proposed rate increases and actuarial data supporting them online.
In a written statement, Sebelius said she had asked the insurers to do this “so consumers can see why their premiums are skyrocketing. Now, it's time for these insurance company CEOs to do their part to make the system more transparent for the American people. If insurance companies are going to raise rates, the least they can do is tell us why.”
Her letter, sent to the CEOs of Aetna, Cigna Corp., Health Care Service Corp., UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint, asked the insurers to disclose a number of things, including their estimates on medical cost and utilization increases; the assumptions driving these estimates and the basis for those assumptions; if their premiums increase more than estimated medical costs, plus a description of what accounts for those differences; and the number of people who will be receiving premium increases.
Insurance representatives at the March 4 meeting agreed that more transparency was needed over premiums.
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