DHHS Secretary Sebelius to Insurers: Stop misleading about premium increases

Yesterday US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released a strongly-worded letter to health insurers warning them not to blame the new health law for premium increases. Sebelius pointed out that any effects on premiums this year are estimated by a wide variety of experts to be minimal:

We estimate that that the effect will be no more than one to two percent.  This is consistent with estimates from the Urban Institute (1 to 2 percent) and Mercer consultants (2.3 percent) as well as some insurers’ estimates.  Pennsylvania’s Highmark, for example, estimates the effect of the legislation on premiums from 1.14 to 2 percent. 

Even NC insurers are hoping to confuse the issue by blaming the health law for “some portion” of higher premiums without being clear that the vast overall driver of higher health premiums is medical costs. Sebelius makes clear that she is taking steps to protect individuals and employers from unjustified rate increases, whatever the source:

Later this fall, we will issue a regulation that will require state or federal review of all potentially unreasonable rate increases filed by health insurers, with the justification for increases posted publicly for consumers and employers. We will also keep track of insurers with a record of unjustified rate increases: those plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014.


  1. Neill

    September 10, 2010 at 10:41 am

    And so it begins, the socialization of health care and the decline of the best health care system in the world. Because as a society, we can’t afford to pay for health care for all.

    Socialist rationing will insure a two tiered system, one for the elite, and a substandard one for everyone else. Instead of free market rationing, where goods and services are priced based on supply and demand. Which do you think is more efficient?

    Good luck trying to get seen at a doctor’s office. These Lenin-Marxists neo-liberals may start singing a different tune when they get lumped in with everyone else. By then it will be too late.

  2. Adam Searing

    September 10, 2010 at 10:45 am

    “Because as a society, we can’t afford to pay for health care for all.”

    You’ve got to be kidding me! The wealthiest country in the world can’t afford to cover the final 15% of people in our country who don’t have insurance? Of course we can do it – we’re Americans, after all, and I’m proud to be one.

  3. Neill

    September 10, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Adam, you’re delusional and spending the tax dollars of Americans who have yet to born. Proud? You should be committed.

    Go ahead, dream your little delusional dreams. Come see me when you’re among the chronically unemployed, and no one can afford to hire you because of universal health coverage.

    How do you insure the unemployed? Adam, when you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Now you’ve come up with a way to redistribute fish, and he has no incentive to fish. What will happen to the supply of fish? It’s rhetorical.

    Good luck with your experiments in socialism. Lenin and Stalin will be proud.

  4. Stephen

    September 10, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Neill, do you have any reasons to believe these things? Or do you just “know in your gut” that they are true?

    Also, Lenin and Stalin weren’t Socialists; they were Communists. There is a difference …

  5. Adam Searing

    September 10, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    The new health law is uniquely American – it builds on the private market, fills gaps for the millions of working people who can’t afford $10,000 a year in family premiums, and, as with any other similar change we’ve made it the past, will have to have tweaks and fixes made as we go along. Sure, we could have decided to eliminate the private insurance market and require everyone to buy coverage from Medicare, but we didn’t do that.

    Winston Churchill said it best – “Democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others.” Our system may not be pretty sometimes, but it works.

  6. Neill

    September 10, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Stephen, you’re right, they were communists. You can look up the facts about the national debt yourself. And yes, I understand that free market economies work and state managed economies don’t. All of the public sector spending is crowding out private investments that create jobs. Unemployment is going to be the biggest economy, if our economy is to recover, and that will require cutting taxes and cutting spending. The longer it takes for the Congress and Administration, the longer it will take, if ever.

    Adam, you’re not right.

  7. Neill

    September 10, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    I meant, Unemployment is going to be the biggest enemy.

  8. Alex

    September 10, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    There are two types of Americans those who can pay their medical bills and those who find themselves with an illness they can not pay for even with insurance. I pray you never find yourself in the later it can happen overnight. It is bad to worry more about the bills than the illness.

    Oh a true illness can leave you unemployable and take your retirement so you become a triple ward of the state. For your medical now, income now, and retirement that adds to the national debt.

  9. Neill

    September 11, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Getting sick is going to be a minor inconvenience compared to the chronically high unemployment rate our country is going to experience over the next 2 – 3 years, and we face a total collapse of our society within 20 years without addressing the tens of trillions of dollars of unfunded entitlement obligations owed by our federal government.

    Medicare already covered people who can’t afford insurance, and no one wanted to pay for it. What makes you think anyone is going to want to pay for a higher level of care for those unable to afford insurance. You can’t legislate compassion any more than ethics or morals

    It’s too bad our country has lost sense of bounds and morays, however, it’s not society’s responsibility to feed, clothe, and pamper you from cradle to grave. If you think it is, then fine, find a way to pay for it without stealing. I’ve got guns and ammo, and the will to use them. Come and get some.

    Wake me up when this generational nightmare is over. The boomers had everything handed to them, and they pay society back with the The Great Recession. We’ll be at war again for oil and food within 10 years, because without them, we collapse in 20, It very well may be an inevitablility.

  10. Medical Coverage

    September 12, 2010 at 1:00 am

    I don’t see repeal, but I see a movement to eliminate the funding for health care reform. starting all over may not be such a bad idea. Then maybe we’ll have time to read the bill.

  11. Stephen

    September 13, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Neill, you’d better put the tin foil hat back on before Obama hits you with one of his Muslim Negro Death Rays. You’re a paranoid, selfish loser …

  12. IBXer

    September 15, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Thugocracy at work.

  13. ewins

    September 20, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Finally Adam has recognized and stated clearly that “the vast overall driver of higher health premiums is medical costs.” Duhhh! Medical Costs are what DOCTORS VISITS COST and how much the insurance companies have to pay for those who suscribe to health coverage. If the cost of paying for DOCTORS VISITS continues to increase at double digit rates, why shouldn’t the insurers raise their rates to match? If you’re a builder and the cost of lumber increases year after year, of course you raise your prices to match your increased cost. It’s the DOCTORS driving the increases in insurance premiums.

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