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Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Here's a Cost Control Idea: Delaware Bill Would Require State Oversight of Premiums

Here's a Cost Control Idea: Delaware Bill Would Require State Oversight of Premiums

June 9, 2007

Check out this article from the Wilmington News Journal in Delaware. The Delaware Senate, by a wide margin, has approved legislation to direct the state's Insurance Department to regulate insurance premiums, the same as they do for auto and homeowner's insurance policies. The House is undecided, though Gov. Ruth Ann Minner sounds supportive. Click here to read the bill -- mercifully short.

It would be interesting to have this kind of conversation in Massachusetts. A large part of the health insurance market -- companies which self-insure -- are exempt from state regulation because of the federal ERISA law. Still, there's a large portion of the insurance market which would be affected, particularly the vulnerable and newly merged small and individual markets (scheduled to merge on July 1).

Right now, insurers have no public accountability for premium increases, and there's no public handle to assess what's happening in these markets. If anything, insurers seem most responsive to demands by providers for higher reimbursement. For several years, HCFA has filed legislation in Massachusetts to create this authority for our Division of Insurance, though legislators have seemed distinctly unenthusiastic. Click here for a fact sheet.

Perhaps one side effect of MA health reform will be increasing demand for accountability for rising health insurance premiums, especially in the context of an individual mandate. Perhaps there's some Delaware in our future.