Washington Bill Would Increase Oversight Of Individual Health Insurance Policies

Armen Hareyan's picture

TheWashington state Senate on Wednesday voted 31-18 to approve a bill (SB 5261)that would allow the Office of the Insurance Commissioner to reject "unreasonable"rate increases for individual health insurance plans, the Seattle Times reports. Under the measure, stateofficials' authority to review and approve annual rate increases would beextended from small-group plans to individual plans. Insurance CommissionerMike Kreidler and others have said that a lack of oversight has enabledinsurers to raise individual plan premiums more than necessary, according tothe Times.

Beth Berendt, the state deputy insurance commissioner for rates, said the billgives the state "the ability to challenge assumptions that areunreasonable." Critics of the measure say the bill would require insurersto use up to 77 cents of every premium dollar collected to pay medical claims,up from 72 cents. In addition, if an insurer does not pay out enough in medicalclaims, the extra premiums would be returned to the state rather than thepolicyholder, the Times reports. All of the state's major insurersoppose the measure, saying that it would interfere with the market and wouldnot address rising medical costs.

The House is expected to approve the measure (Song, Seattle Times,2/1).

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