The battle between the Obama administration and the health insurance industry was ratcheted up recently when the White House learned some companies, including those offering Medicare Advantage plans, are planning a premium hike of up to 9 percent.

Upon learning certain companies were telling beneficiaries the health care reform act was forcing them to raise premiums, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote an angry letter to America’s Health Insurance Plans, the health insurance lobby, informing it the administration would take a “zero tolerance” approach to “misinformation and unjustified rate increases.”

For her part, AHIP president and CEO Karen Ignagni shot back with an argument that the principles of economics require that increased benefits require increased costs.

“The new health care reform law mandates that health insurance coverage include a wide range of new benefits beyond what many families and small businesses previously purchased,” Ignagni says.