Initiative promotes transparency in insurance rates

By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

In order to gauge who benefits the most from a particular proposition, it should be the duty of any informed voter to see where the funding comes from.

In the case of Proposition 45, the Healthcare Insurance Rate Change Initiative Statute, it is evident what side of the vote corporate money is behind.

The proposed bill requires a single elected State Insurance Commissioner’s approval before an insurance provider can change rates or adjust services associated with health insurance. It also prohibits the use of credit history, or absence of prior insurance coverage, in determining rates or eligibility for health, automobile or homeowners insurance.

For voters covered under the Affordable Care Act, these safeguards for healthcare are already in place.
Thirty-six other states currently have the authority to control insurance rates.

The largest opposition to Proposition 45 comes from Californians Against Higher Taxes.
They are a statewide collection of over 200 organizations and over 5,000 individual voters. They exist to fight higher taxes while creating jobs, and growing the economy.

Funding the opposition are some of the state’s largest health care providers. Millions upon millions of dollars from the Kaiser Foundation and Health Net have been funneled to the opposition of Proposition 45.

The largest donation to date, $12 million, comes from Wellpoint, Inc., the largest for profit health care company affiliated with Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

The health insurance companies in opposition to Proposition 45 have spent over $55 million to date to sway voters. Contribution information is available on the website of California Secretary of State Debra Bowen under Campaign Finance.

Author of Proposition 45, Jamie Court, says, big health companies are nervous that the public will learn the truth about their opposition to controlling rate hikes.

An example of why this is important is clearly stated in a California Department of Insurance press release. It detailed public scrutiny of Anthem Blue Cross’ 9.8 percent rate increase, later adjusted to 8 percent. Even when the current Department of Insurance board deemed only a 2.1 percent hike was justifiable.

In this example the lack of an insurance commissioner with veto power allowed an accounting maneuver to give the appearance of a $75.5 million reduction of income to hide the profitability of the company, potentially costing California taxpayers millions.