In a letter to the chief executive officers of UnitedHealth Group Inc., WellPoint Inc., Aetna Inc., Health Care Service Corporation and CIGNA HealthCare Inc., U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called on the executives to publicly justify proposed health insurance premium increases. Sebelius’ letter comes after a meeting last week with these executives at the White House.
“Last Thursday, I asked [chief executive officers] to post online the actuarial justification for premium hikes so consumers can see why their premiums are skyrocketing,” she said in a press release. “Now, it’s time for these insurance company [chief executive officers] to do their part to make the system more transparent for the American people. If insurance companies are going to raise rates, the least they can do is tell us why.”
In the letter Sebelius also points out that President Barack Obama’s health reform proposal addresses the need to control health care costs, as well as “the need for a larger pool of insured individuals to balance risks,” both which the chief executive officers highlighted as concerns. She provides an outline of the information necessary for the American public.
The letter comes shortly after a new analysis from Goldman Sachs found that competition in the insurance market is so weak, insurance companies can continue to raise rates even if it means losing customers. The analysis found that “price competition is down” and that “incumbent carriers seem more willing than ever to walk away from existing business.”
A copy of Sebelius’ letter to the executives can be accessed at www.hhs.gov/news.