What we don’t know IS hurting us.

Posted October, 12 2011 by arianne

Your insurance company wants more money from you. Why? Because it said so.  You wouldn’t understand anyways.  Just hand over your wallet and keep your mouth shut and nobody will get hurt.

Except, people are getting hurt.  They’re being forced to choose between paying exorbitant increases to their health insurance premiums, or putting food on the table.

And for what? So many of us are paying through the nose to keep our insurance, pushing off other bills and racking up debts, only to find out we can’t afford to use it anyways because the co-pays are so high.

Is it really worth it?

Well, that’s what New Yorkers want to know.  Our health insurance plans are required to submit their explanations to the State Department of Financial Services (DOFS) every time they want to raise our premium rates. Theoretically, this has to do things like medical inflation.  But, again, this is just a theory.

We can’t know for sure because our health insurers don’t want us to.  HCFANY has been trying to get copies of these rate increase justification memos for nearly a year.  Twelve other states already make this public (Oregon even has hired actuaries to help the consumer movement review this stuff!).  The DOFS has finally agreed that we should get copies of these rate memorandums, but – surprise! –  the health plans have all filed objections to the release of this info. 

Apparently, their justication memos for why they need more money from us contain “trade secrets.” But, last time I looked, we’re all getting slayed pretty bad, regardless of which insurance company we go with.  So, clutching these “trade secrets” dearly to your breast doesn’t seem to be doing any of us any good at the moment.  Besides, insurance companies in other states are doing it and they are just fine.

The other reason they give for not wanting their rate justifications made public, is that, well…we just wouldn’t understand.

Oh insurance industry!  Your strange corporate-speak confuses and frightens me!

Ahh…if only life were so simple.  But no, also not acceptable.  New Yorkers have a right to know.  Your average Joe may not be able to understand actuarial science, but HCFANY does.  And we will have no problem explaining what’s in those rate justifications to Joe or anyone else. So, bring it.

If you want to learn more, the NY Times picked up on this and has a good article out this morning, titled “In Seeking Rate Increases in New York, Health Insurers Fight to Keep Secrets.”