New Hampshire Rate Hike Typifies National Insurance Debate

March 6, 2017

Increased premium rates residents of New Hampshire are paying for their insurance policies are, according to U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, proof of the “disconnect” between health insurance companies and the people they, in theory, serve.

Shaheen, quoted in an article by Deborah McDermott for said, “When you see the profits that they’v made, and you hear the stories of people who are desperate to pay the bills, something’s wrong.”

Though not as severe as rate hikes in other parts of the country, policy holders in New Hampshire with coverage through Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, are facing a jump of 12-13 percent for individual policies and 17 percent for small group policies.

In neighboring Maine, however, customers with the same company are facing a jump of 23 percent, while across the nation in California, a spike of 39 percent is under consideration. In New Hampshire, however, the insurance commissioner has granted Anthem’s request.

Deputy insurance commissioner Alex Feldvebel, quoted in the same article, said, “The standard we use is that the rate increase can be neither excessive or inadequate.” The desirous balance is a level that does not gouge customers, but also keeps the insurer solvent.

Douglas Wenners, president and general manager of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Hampshire, like other insurers across the nation, defended the rate hikes in light of other factors driving up the cost of health care in the United States.

In this case, he specifically pointed to the state requirement to provide coverage for all citizens, with no eye toward age or pre-existing conditions, a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s proposed federal overhaul of health care and health insurance.

Cases like the rate hikes in New Hampshire typify the broader problem of high insurance rates in the United States and are contributing even more heated discussion to the already hot debate on health care reform that Obama hopes to see resolved this week if Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi can garner adequate votes to send the controversial legislation to the president’s desk.