Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Some life advice for Ms. Sebelius

Connecticut insurers are taking the Pelosi challenge... and now we will all be paying for it.

Recall a couple weeks back and Kathleen Sebelius's completely unveiled threat to freeze-out those health insurance providers whom she felt were gaming the system by requesting unreasonable rate hikes in anticipation of full implementation of ObamaCare.

"There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a letter to the insurance lobby.

"Simply stated, we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections," Sebelius said. She warned that bad actors may be excluded from new health insurance markets that will open in 2014 under the law. They'd lose out on a big pool of customers, as many as 30 million people nationwide.

These comments were made specific to health insurance providers in Connecticut such as Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield who were requesting rate hikes of 20% and more.

Well, lo and behold, Connecticut insurers were granted those rate hikes in full by the state regulators last week.

The state's largest health insurer was granted rate hikes Friday that will be well over 20 percent for some plans, drawing sharp criticism from the attorney general.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Connecticut requested a wide range of premium increases, which will take effect Oct. 1, to cover the costs of new benefits required by federal health reform. Higher prices mostly affect new members shopping for a health plan on the individual market rather than people who have group plans through an employer or some other organization.

The Connecticut Department of Insurance approved Anthem's request without changes, including a boost of as much as 22.9 percent just to comply with one provision: eliminating annual spending limits per customer. But it's unclear how much more customers will pay because of the variety of plans and the complexity of other factors, such as a person's age

(italics, ours)

That last sentence is key because it represents regulatory uncertainty which the market, any market, hates and which causes businesses to hedge their bets by raising prices. Look for more of the same with pending regulations imposed by the regime across the economic spectrum (And wags wonder why businesses are hoarding record amounts of cash).

Again, the smartest kids in the class that is Team O thought they were being too cute by a half by front-loading popular provisions while totally neglecting the reality that perhaps the reason why each of those provisions are so popular is because they are of some tangible market value which translates into a cost to the health insurance providers that will simply get passed along to their customer.

Follow the link above which does a good job of breaking down just what rate hikes the providers were requesting for each individual provision.

At first, Sebelius's remarks looked simply thuggish. Now that the very people who pore over the books of the providers requesting these rate increases have deemed them 100% justified, her comments also look completely ignorant as well.

Thuggish and stupid is no way to go through life, Kathleen.

Exit question: How much more politicized will become these state insurance regulator and commissioner posts now that they are central to justifying rate hikes caused by this legislative abortion?