KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Lawmakers Address ‘Troubling Trends’ In Insurance Market

Des Moines (Iowa) Register: "State lawmakers want to press Iowa health insurers to release more details to help lawmakers decide whether rate increases are justified. This week, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the state's largest health insurer, said it would raise rates an average of 18 percent for about 80,000 Iowans who buy their own health insurance" (Jacobs, 2/19).

The Chicago Tribune adds: "Rep. Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, the chairwoman of the House Commerce Committee, said action on the [health insurance transparency] measure could come as early as next week. She argued that quick action was needed to address troubling trends in the insurance market" (Glover, 2/18).

Iowa's WQAD reports, rising insurance premiums are nothing new. "It is happening across the country. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield raised their premiums by as much as 39%. It boosted customer rates as much as $300 dollars a month. In Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is raising rates between 14.92% and 17.92%" (Davis, 2/18).

Separately, the Kansas Health Institute reports on a bill that "would allow employers who don't already offer a group plan to contribute to the premium payments a worker makes on an individual health insurance plan. It also would require health insurers to offer the option of a high deductible plan coupled with a Health Savings Account. ... The bill will be opposed by the Kansas Insurance Department, according to Assistant Commissioner Bob Tomlinson, because if it becomes law it would undermine the small-group market and make it difficult or impossible for people with health problems to find or keep affordable coverage" (Shields, 2/18). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.