New move in Congress to regulate health insurance premiums-surprise, surprise!

 

When I was lobbying in Congress regarding portions of the health reform legislation, several congressional aids confided that as soon as the legislation was passed they would start working on more legislation and changes. They were telling the truth.

Legislation has been introduced to further regulate insurance premiums at the federal level. “Regulate them like utilities.”  has been thrown about. I wonder if these politicians realize that profits for the health insurance industry are about the same level allowed for many regulated utilities. Utilities are given protected territory for good reason and regulated because of that monopoly, hardly the same as the competitive situation for health insurance (especially given the government’s goal to increase competition).

This new attack is the logical result of months of rhetoric about insurance companies as the devil in the health care system. Or, here is a thought, the politicians are setting the stage for high premium increases between now and 2014 as the impact of PPACA changes start to kick in and the ongoing impact of doing nothing to control health care costs becomes apparent (to the people who don’t already know it).

From the New York Times:  WASHINGTON — Fearing that health insurance premiums may shoot up in the next few years, Senate Democrats laid a foundation on Tuesday for federal regulation of rates, four weeks after President Obama signed a law intended to rein in soaring health costs.

Karen M. Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group for insurers, said Congress should let the new law work before piling on additional requirements. Congress, she said, has largely ignored the cause of rising premiums: the explosive growth of medical costs and the power of hospitals and other health care providers to dictate prices.

Ms. Ignagni said the law imposed new requirements, taxes and fees on health plans, which could further drive up costs.

Fasten your seat belt the ride has just begun.

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