Friday, April 30, 2010


Obama’s home state does way better than Obama himself on healthcare reform

by Larry Geller

An article hidden deep inside today’s Honolulu Advertiser (in the past it has been front-page news) reported HMSA’s latest rate increase, a mere 7.8%. No, not 49%, only 7.8%.

The state's largest health insurer has received the green light to raise premiums by an average of 7.8 percent for roughly 11,000 small businesses. The Hawai'i Insurance Division yesterday approved the increase requested by the Hawaii Medical Service Association. [Honolulu Advertiser, Some Hawaii businesses will see HMSA rates rise 7.8% on average, 4/30/2010)

In actuality, if the increase is applied as it has in the past, many businesses will see a significantly higher rate of increase (the devil is in the word “average”).

Still, Hawaii’s regulation of insurance premiums basically works very well.

It also goes unnoticed in the rest of the country.

Obama’s health insurance reform bill, all 1000+ pages of it, doesn’t come close to the effectiveness of laws that protect Hawaii citizens from many of the abuses noted during the painful national healthcare debate. For example, pre-existing conditions are not an issue under our Prepaid Health Care Act.

This blog, by the way, was instrumental in restoring insurance premium rate regulation after a bill that would have renewed regulation after the original law sunsetted was killed by amendments attached by Rep. Bob Herkes’ Corporate Consumer Protection Committee.

As it happened, an “intern” was working side-by-side with Herkes, in his legislative office, on healthcare issues, but this was no newbie college student—he was an “embedded lobbyist,” a high-level executive from HMSA Foundation. It’s a tribute to the power of blogging that this practice could exposed and then eliminated. Starting the following legislative session “embedded lobbyists” were banned by a rule change. Something like spraying insecticide, some bugs were removed from the legislative process.

The following session saw rate regulation restored, and it has been working for the benefit of  Hawaii’s small businesses since then.


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