Sebelius to Shame Insurers for Rate Increases—on Government Website

Sebelius to Shame Insurers for Rate Increases—on Government Website
December 1, 2011

Benjamin Domenech

Benjamin Domenech (bdomenech@heartland.org) is a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute. Domenech... (read full bio)

With insurance premiums having risen across the nation since the passage of President Obama’s health care law, his administration recently announced a public relations response to the increases which will highlight rate hikes on a taxpayer-funded website.

According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, insurance companies that raise rates by 10 percent or more will be forced to publicize their reasons for doing so on a government website.

“For too long, when it came to health insurance, consumers were left in the dark. In the past, insurance companies could often raise your rates without any transparency or accountability. Many insurers were under no obligation to give you any explanation as to why they felt an increase was necessary,” Sebelius said in a statement. “This year, in every State and for the first time ever, the Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to publicly justify their actions if they want to raise rates by 10 percent or more.”

The site's address is http://companyprofiles.healthcare.gov/.

Forced to Justify ‘Exorbitant’ Increases

Although some states have posted or released the results of rate reviews, Sebelius’ website will, she claims, weed out “unjustified” rate hikes which, in her words, go toward “advertising or big CEO salaries.”

“We, in partnership with States, are taking a good, hard look at why insurance companies are seeking to raise your rates, why your premiums might be going up, and making sure these decisions are public and justified,” Sebelius said.

The real aim of the Obama administration’s project is to publicly shame those insurers who calculate that they must raise rates, says Merrill Matthews, a resident scholar at the Institute for Policy Innovation.

“President Obama and the Democrats completely ignored warnings from actuaries and health policy experts that the new requirements, restrictions and mandated coverages in the health care law would drive up health care spending and, as a result, health insurance premiums,” Matthews said. “Now that health insurance premiums are going up—not down, as the president repeatedly predicted—Secretary Sebelius is imposing price controls in the form of insurance ‘rate review.’”

Obama’s health care law is full of taxpayer-funded incentives for states to impose severe price controls, passing policies which cause insurers to raise rates and then shaming them for behaving rationally, Matthews says.

“Sebelius is handing out millions of taxpayer dollars to force the states to help her do her dirty work. This latest project is just one more step toward total government domination of the health care system,” Matthews said.”

Benjamin Domenech

Benjamin Domenech (bdomenech@heartland.org) is a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute. Domenech... (read full bio)