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In a land where the Federal Reserve brought President Ford's dream (Whip Inflation Now -- aka WIN) to reality; in a country where real wages for most people have barely increased for the last twenty-some years; in a scenario where insurers will be receiving massive payments from the Federal Government starting in 2014 to pay for insurance (via PPACA subsidies for those not so well off), you might think health insurance companies would be a least a tad reticent in demanding massive increases in premiums this coming year.

You would, of course, be wrong.

California health insurers are proposing double-digit rate increases for hundreds of thousands of policyholders, drawing criticism that health insurers are padding their profits as the nation prepares to carry out the federal health care law...

Anthem Blue Cross, the state's largest for-profit health insurer, wants to raise rates an average of 17.5 percent for 744,000 members in February, with some Anthem policyholders seeing increases as high as 25 percent... Aetna is planning a nearly 19 percent raise in rates for about 69,000 members with individual policies in April.. UnitedHealth Group has proposed 10 percent hikes for 11,000 policyholders.

The sad thing is this could have been prevented. Legislation considered by the California Legislature, AB 52, designed to give the State Insurance Commissioner authority to regulate rates, was defeated by conservadems a year ago. Consumer Watchdog then attempted to put a proposition equivalent to that legislation on the ballot for November 2012, but failed in a squeaker to get enough signatures to make it in time (the initiative is now certified, and will appear on the ballot in November, 2014, but that is two years and as we see two massive percentage rate hikes too late).

Health insurers want to make sure their rates are high going into 2014 to account for the uncertainties in the law and to make sure they can make as much money as possible, said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog...

"This is a bit of the pre-emptive strike against the implementation of the federal health reform law," Court said.

Not only are they raising rates by obscene amounts but all the while these insurers continue to deny, deny, and deny again, getting away with it as Alyssa's Story I told yesterday illustrates.

When are Californians, and all Americans, going to stop watching the hunger austerity games in Washington and start demanding a health care system that delivers health, not health insurance executive care?

California Democrats, with their supermajorities in both Houses, could easily -- if they chose to -- pass a version of AB 52 this year, and, even more importantly, pass single payer health care legislation, which also failed last year. But as far as I can tell they will sit on their duffs, watching their constituents cough up money for absurd hikes in health insurance premiums while bleating about how they have to wait for Obamacare to play out.

Where is the website to donate for a set of one-way tickets to hell for our legislators?

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