Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Warning to small business employers and employees: Your healthcare premiums are about to go up

Health care premium regulation has worked well for Hawaii small business owners and for their employees, who often pay the premiums to cover their families. The Insurance Commissioner has kept rate increases to the bare minimum that the insurance companies can justify. He also prevents HMSA and Kaiser from lowering rates artificially in order to drive out competitors.

All this is about to end. Premiums will be, like gasoline prices, whatever the companies decide they should be.

Yes, unless the House agrees to fix the mess they've created with SB2917, regulation of health care premiums in Hawaii will be confounded by language drawn up by the industry itself for its own benefit which was helpfully inserted into the bill by Rep. Bob Herkes and supported by House leadership.

All that was needed was to remove the sunset provision from the law that allows the Insurance Commissioner to regulate rates. Herkes inserted language that was written, according to a Pacific Business News article Bill could dilute oversight on health insurance rates, by the insurance industry itself. The resultant bill was passed by a conference committee on which Herkes sat. Herkes has an "intern" working in his office placed there by HMSA Foundation. You figure out whose side he is on.

Thursday is the last day this can be fixed. Either call your state representatives or pay higher premiums later. Ask them to simply remove the sunset provision from the insurance premium rate regulation law by fixing SB2917 to eliminate all the industry-favorable language. Another place to call is Speaker Calvin Say's office: 586-6100 or email repsay@Capitol.hawaii.gov . You can also email all representatives at reps@capitol.hawaii.gov .

So call now or pay later.


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