Controlling health insurance prices without controlling the underlying health care costs will destabilize the U.S. health care system, Karen Ignagni has warned members of a key Senate committee.
Ignagni appeared as a witness at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on “protection from unjustified premiums.”
The new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act is supposed to put a new individual and small group premium rate review program into effect in 2014.
But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said at the hearing that she supports creating a premium rate review program for states that do not already review health insurance rate increases.
“The legislation I have introduced simply provides federal protection for consumers who are currently at the mercy of large health insurance companies whose top priority is their bottom line,” Feinstein said, according to a written version of her remarks posted on the committee’s website. “Health insurance should be no different than utilities. Water and power are essential for life. So they are heavily regulated and rate increases must be approved.”
Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, said Congress has to do something about the cost of health care before it can do much to hold down the cost of health coverage in a realistic fashion.