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New Bill Would Allow State To Reject Health Insurance Rate Hikes

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Aired 6/28/10

A measure that would require health insurers to get prior approval before raising rates continues to advance in the state legislature. Supporters say consumers need some protection from sky high insurance costs.

— A measure that would require health insurers to get prior approval before raising rates continues to advance in the state legislature. Supporters say consumers need some protection from sky high insurance costs.

Under the bill, health insurers would have to submit all requests for higher premiums and co-pays to state regulators. The state would have the ability to reject all rate hikes it considered to be unreasonable.

Jamie Court directs the non-profit group Consumer Watchdog. He rejects the idea that the measure would be too tough on insurance companies.

"There's nothing that's saying they can't raise rates," Court points out. "It's saying they have to justify that their rates aren't excessive. And so if they really need to raise rates, they should be able to make the case. But right now, all they have to do is raise rates. And what industry wouldn't like to raise rates at a whim."

Just last week, Aetna withdrew its plan to increase premiums, after state regulators found math errors in the company's paperwork.

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