WASHINGTON BUREAU — Senate Democrats are asking federal regulators to try to do something to slow 2011 Medicare supplement insurance rate increases.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., joined with Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to send a letter about Medigap rate increases to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.
Reid, Baucus and Kerry were responding to reports that United of Omaha Insurance Company, a unit of Mutual of Omaha, Omaha, Neb., have increased Medigap premiums by as much as 40% for some enrollees.
Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, defended Medigap issuers, saying rate increases are driven “by the soaring cost of underlying medical care.”
“Medigap is highly regulated and premium rates are reviewed and approved by the insurance commissioners in every state,” Zirkelbach says.
Most states have adopted a model developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo., that already calls for state approval of rate increases, Zirkelbach says.
Reid and colleagues say the United of Omaha increases “raise serious concerns about premium-setting practices and rate review procedures in place for Medigap policies.”