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Obama Administration Urges States to Cut Health Insurers’ Requests for Big Rate Increases

New York Times, Aug. 3, 2015
by ROBERT PEAR

WASHINGTON — Hoping to avoid another political uproar over the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration is trying to persuade states to cut back big rate increases requested by many health insurance companies for 2016.

In calling for aggressive regulation of rates, federal officials are setting up a potential clash with insurers. Some carriers said they paid out more in claims than they collected in premiums last year, so they lost money on policies sold in the new public marketplaces. After finding that new customers were sicker than expected, some health plans have sought increases of 10 percent to 40 percent or more.

Administration officials have political and financial reasons for wanting to hold down premiums. Big rate increases could undermine public support for the health care law, provide ammunition to Republican critics of the measure and increase costs for some consumers and the federal government.

Kevin J. Counihan, the chief executive of the federal insurance marketplace, is urging states to consider a range of factors before making their decisions

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