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Six-month-old Hazel Garcia chews a pamphlet at a health insurance enrollment event in Cudahy, California March 27, 2014. More than 6 million people have now signed up for private insurance plans under President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law know
The good Florida news about rate hikes isn't so good after all. It turns out that the state jumped the gun in posting rate information on a website, and the insurers who had included "zero" in place of their rate hike requests. Why did they do that? Secrecy, of course.
Some of the insurers listed "zero" instead of their real intentions in order to keep them out of the public domain, [the Office of Insurance Regulation's] spokesman Harvey Bennett said. It is legal for them to do that under a "trade secrets" statute, he said. […]

The mix-up occurred on the "I-File" system, where companies can post their filings to OIR directly. In the part that the public can see—including the rate request—some of the companies put incorrect information.

Even though this is supposed to be public information, the insurers don't want the public to see it, so they've figured out how to comply with posting their rate information without actually divulging their rate information. And it's legal.

Insurers will go to great lengths to keep their customers in the dark about how much said customers are paying, not just for insurance premiums, but for the health care they're getting under that insurance. Take this example from Washington state, where legislation would have created a database that "basically would have required insurers to disclose what they're paying for health care services based on where care is provided."

But legislation in Washington state to create the database failed— according to pretty much everyone we talked to—because of the strong opposition from the state's largest private insurer, Premera Blue Cross. The company lobbied hard to defeat the effort, which had broad support from the health-care industry, employers and competing insurers. Critics of Premera said the insurer has a strong business interest to keep the cost information under its control.
Every other healthcare stakeholder in the state—including other insurers—wanted this information to be public, wanted this transparency for consumers and for providers. Even the state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business wants this database. You might remember the NFIB, the national organization that brought suit against Obamacare, saying the whole law was unconstitutional. Here's their state chapter working to make the law work a little bit better for the businesses it represents.

Here's yet another example of where the Affordable Care Act is just a start in getting a handle on our screwed up healthcare system. The law was intended to create more transparency and more competition among insurance companies, thereby encouraging lower prices. But insurance companies are getting around it however they can, and calling it "trade secrets." Here's one amendment to it that you might even get bipartisan agreement on: forcing health insurance companies to be transparent on everything from premiums to payments to providers.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 11:43 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (28+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 11:43:45 AM PDT

  •  healthcare is a public utility (0+ / 0-)
    Here's yet another example of where the Affordable Care Act is just a start in getting a handle on our screwed up healthcare system. The law was intended to create more transparency and more competition among insurance companies and thereby encourage lower prices. But insurance companies are getting around it however they can, and calling it "trade secrets." Here's one amendment to it that you might even get bipartisan agreement on: forcing health insurance companies to be transparent on everything from premiums to payments to providers

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 11:48:11 AM PDT

  •  I am afraid this is a license to steal (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ditsylilg, OldDragon, RN that thinks

    by the insurance companies.  The bait and switch by them is now transparent.  They made a 100 million dollar investment to bullshit the public by saying they were against it, and then turned around and made a few billion in profits for that investment.  We ate it up too.  As long as the president is already pissing the congress off, he might just as well tell them that they can stick this Obamacare right where the sun don't shine.  Then lets see what they do with it.  With huge rate hikes, this will not last so it is back to square one.

  •  The Affordable Care Act was not primarily (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skepticalcitizen

    intended to improve health care, it was intended to perpetuate and subsidize profits for private insurance companies.

    Better than nothing!  The DLC way.

    "The opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.”" -- Paul Dirac

    by Rikon Snow on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 05:34:38 PM PDT

  •  I've been living a nightmare the past few months (5+ / 0-)

    wading my way through the web of the Washington State Health Exchange, trying to get my policy in place.  It is completely different than the circumstances this diary describes, but highlights much needed change.  Here's my tale of woe:

    I enrolled through the exchange towards the end of April due to a qualifying event.  I chose a silver plan and paid my premium thinking all was well.  Here I sit over two months later, having paid over $900 in premiums, and my chosen provider has not yet heard of me.  I've talked to people at the Washington exchange numerous times, created a case that was supposed to expedite the process (over a month ago), and as of this morning, nothing.  In the case of a major medical event, I have no way of demonstrating I am insured.

    As it is, my primary care has a bill they are sitting on for awhile longer, and I am going without my prescription because I don't have the cash.  I can not fathom how it can take over 60 days to process a health insurance registration.  I so wish I could buy into a single-payer system.  

    Our present "system" wastes an incredible number of work-hours that have nothing to do with wellness, other than making sure someone can get paid for any delivered care.

    "Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person." David Korten, When Corporations Rule the World

    by Delta Overdue on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 05:36:19 PM PDT

    •  If I thought I was capable of learning a new (4+ / 0-)

      language, I'd retire to France.

      Is Canada taking retirees?  I hear Nova Scotia is nice.

      "The opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.”" -- Paul Dirac

      by Rikon Snow on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 05:39:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I am sorry you have had so much trouble (3+ / 0-)

      with getting your insurer to upload you into their database.  But I suspect that if you can show that the insurer accepted your premiums for the service you elected, you are technically "in the system" and will have retroactive coverage, in case of a major medical event.

      I worked in HR for a number of years, and even in the employer system, there is a lag time, and more of one depending on when in the month you may have enrolled and if you enrolled outside the "open enrollment" period due to a qualifying event.  I worked in HR and had a similar problem with an off-schedule change in status due to a qualifying event.  

      This, however, does you no good if you do not have the upfront cash to pay for your prescriptions now, even if you could be reimbursed as the data catches up with you.  

      Unfortunately, 60 days does not seem to be an unusual amount of time for this kind of transaction, but if you were told you would get expedited assistance I would call them back and ask for a ballpark time frame.  And I would keep your copies of your canceled checks as proof of coverage if you have an event and need to wrangle with the insurer.

      fyi, under COBRA for example, the law mandates a 60 day window for eligible covered's election period (60 days from a termed employee's end of employment, for example) with coverage retroactive if there was a lapse within that 60 days.  So a "60 day period" seems part of the mammoth system's ability to effect or implement changes.  Generally, however, once they cash your checks - and they've cashed two months worth of premiums, you're covered.

      I do agree, however, not simply single payer, which requires its own mangle of paperwork, but a truly nationalized health care system is what we need - no cards needed, no proof of anything, you simply go to a doctor or pharmacy or hospital and receive care.

      "Out of Many, One Nation." This is the great promise of these United States of America -9.75 -6.87

      by Uncle Moji on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 06:19:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  How much did Medicare/Medicaid premiums go up? (0+ / 0-)

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 05:42:29 PM PDT

  •  On a related topic... (4+ / 0-)

    I can't rant enough about how angry I am about Aetna and their specialty pharmacy price hikes. I had to go on a blood thinner a month ago, and Aetna will only pay for Lovenox, not heparin. Their price (I'm on the bronze plan) is $450 a month. The price for heparin at retail is $1200. I have to pay cash prices for heparin from CVS, but I have a handy-dandy coupon for $75 bucks for a month's worth. The only problem is that it doesn't go through my deductible. Worthless POS.

    I hear even test strips and insulin are incredibly expensive now.

    Part of the problem is that I'm in Texas, and Aetna has employers who are required to cover their employees over the barrel. They hiked up the silver price to nearly twice as much as what I was paying in 2012. It would actually be cheaper if my employer let me go on the federal marketplace.

    I see you drivin' 'round town with the girl I love / And I'm like / Please proceed, Governor. - Dave Itzkoff

    by Jensequitur on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 05:59:56 PM PDT

  •  I thought we were all supposed (4+ / 0-)

    to be worshipping at the altar of free markets. Isn't perfect information a requirement for the efficient and effective functioning of a free market? Even if we were all rational consumers and health care were properly a market commodity (I don't think it is), the suppression and distortion of information by the privileged players makes the market dysfunctional...for us.

    Marx was an optimist.

    by psnyder on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 06:00:14 PM PDT

  •  Diary (4+ / 0-)
    because of the strong opposition from the state's largest private insurer, Premera Blue Cross. The company lobbied hard to defeat the effort,
    So money equals "free speech" and there is no corruption in government according to Citizens United , right?

    There are probably a million voters in WA who would want the information that is being hidden , yet a hand full of rich people get to veto "their" speech with gobs of cash and favors to politicians and regulators

    Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers

    by Patango on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 06:08:06 PM PDT

  •  Oh, man, sure am glad you corrected this (0+ / 0-)

    I've been sharing information from the previously published and unfortunately not as accurate as I wish it were diary since it came out.  Not looking forward to having to backtrack, but better sooner than later!

    If you don't like it, attack the message, not the messenger. The former may convince me that I am wrong, but the latter will always convince that I am right.

    by nancyjones on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 07:24:40 PM PDT

  •  Anthem BC fraud in northern cal (0+ / 0-)

    story linked to here

    they put out a huge list with 'everybody' on it

    people signed up, went to those providers, got their bills refused, are now screwed for the full bill amounts..the corrected list of providers became a small percentage of actual doctors and clinics etc.

    really bad, really arrogant..'oh, we were confused' yeah right.

    a corporate oopsie!

    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 03:26:09 AM PDT

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