Arrow-right Camera
News >  Spokane

Insurers’ premium increases criticized

Feds say proposed hikes excessive in Idaho, 8 other states

BOISE – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has listed Idaho among nine states where insurance companies are seeking increases in premiums deemed excessive under new federal guidelines.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius singled out those states Thursday after the agency completed its monitoring of rate increases, a function called for under the 2010 federal health care overhaul.

The legislation gives the agency authority to review rate increases and requires companies to justify rate hikes exceeding 10 percent.

“It’s time for these companies to immediately rescind these unreasonable rate hikes, issue refunds to consumers or publicly explain their refusal to do so,” Sebelius said, according to the Idaho Statesman.

Sebelius didn’t identify the two Idaho companies with excessive increases, but Blue Cross of Idaho has proposed increases of 13 and 14 percent, and divisions of Assurant Health, including John Alden Life Insurance Co. and Time Insurance Co., have proposed 16 percent rate hikes, according to the agency’s website.

Companies have also proposed increases deemed unreasonable in Arizona, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The excessive rate hikes would affect more than 42,000 residents across those states.

The agency said insurance rates were unreasonable in Idaho and the other states because the insurers wouldn’t be using enough of the premium dollars “for actual medical care and quality improvements, and because the justifications were based on unreasonable assumptions.”