Government to Track Questionable Health Insurance Premium Hikes

Health insurance companies are under scrutiny after the secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, announced plans to track those who push for unjustified rate increases. According to a letter issued by Sebelius to Karen Ignagni, the health industry’s top lobbyist, those companies that attempt to raise rates may be blocked from a new marketplace for insurance coverage.

Companies Keep Trying to Raise Rates

Earlier this week, some health insurance companies were asking for premium hikes that topped 20 percent as soon as next month to anticipate changes in the health care system like higher medical prices and more young adults dropping their policies, which they say will affect their own costs by up to nine percentage points.

In addition to asking for premium hikes, Sebelius said some insurers have started notifying enrollees that their premiums would be increasing next year as a result of the health care reform law’s new benefits.

She noted that these hikes won’t be tolerated and if the companies are caught, there will be consequences.

Insurers to Be Punished for Hikes

Sebelius said that in order to keep health insurance rates under control, the government plans to punish those companies to attempt to make unjustified rate hikes. If they’re caught, they will not be allowed to participate in new state-run insurance exchanges that will take effect in 2014.

Millions of individuals who want to purchase their own policies, as well as those who work for small companies, will be taking part in these exchanges. Because the companies would lose out on a lot of money, they don’t want to be excluded.

What If My Rates Are Too High?

It appears that the government is doing its part to stop companies from increasing rates this year. However, if you feel that your rates are already too high, you could look at low-income health insurance options to help take some of the pressure off of your finances.

If you make too much money to qualify for some of these options, shop around for affordable coverage until you find the insurance plan that best suits you and your family.