The President Asks Health Insurance Providers for Transparency
The debate for health insurance reform continues as Obama tries to get health insurance providers to provide reasons for such drastic rate hikes. Insurers in California, Indiana, Washington, Oregon, and Michigan among others plan to increase individual plans by as much as 60 percent.
On Thursday, President Obama intensified his efforts to make health care reform a reality. He began by taking the issue of health insurance rate hikes by the head. The latest tactic involved reading a letter from a former cancer patient from Ohio who is still charged over $6,000 in premiums a year in addition to $4,000 for medical costs.
Obama’s shaming of health insurance companies came as part of a meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius and five top insurance excecutives. The CEOS were Aetna Inc., WellPoint Inc., UnitedHealthGroup Inc., Cigna Corp., and Health Care Service Corp.
Although the meeting was a closed –door affair, Obama dropped in to make his point. The president carries on with his crusade to change the way Americans get medical care and coverage. Currently, the bill is set to go through the Senate in a reconciliation vote.
Such a vote requires a simple majority with members voting either up or down in favor or against the bill. It allows for a quicker pass of the legislation and prevents a filibuster such as the one Senator Bunning of Kentucky put on for the Senate last week. His efforts were an attempt to block the extension of COBRA. Bunning cited costs as his reason for holding up the vote.
President Obama and Secretary Sebelius spoke with health insurance providers to ascertain clear reasons as to why they need to raise prices. Moreover, Obama asked the companies to cite those reasons online so that consumers understand the rate hikes.
The move promotes more transparency. Sebelius asked execs to, “Tell us what you’re paying out. Tell us what you’re spending in overhead and CEO salaries and advertising.”
Conversely, health insurance companies pointed to the dwindling pool of healthy young customers leaving the sick elderly, as the reason for rate hikes. Coupled with the rising costs of medical care, the providers feel it necessary to increase costs simply to recoup losses.