Slavitt says insurers didn’t charge enough

Regulators approve higher health premiums to strengthen Obamacare insurers

By Jacquie Lee and Jayne O'Donnell
USA TODAY, October 19, 2016

State insurance regulators across the country have approved health care premium increases higher than those requested by insurers, despite a national effort to keep rates for policies sold on Affordable Care Act exchanges from skyrocketing, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

This year may be the last for dramatic premium increases as insurers now understand their new markets better, say some supporters of the law, including the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

“The business was underpriced in many markets in the first couple years,” says Andy Slavitt, CMS' acting administrator. “In retrospect, life would have been a lot better and easier if things had started 10% higher, the rate increases had been higher and it had been just a smooth steady climb.”

“Nobody really knew what it would cost to insure sick people,” Slavitt said. “I don’t know how (anyone) could have known.”



By Don McCanne, M.D.

Interesting. When the nation is upset about the very high increases in the insurance premiums for plans offered on the insurance exchanges, CMS acting administrator Andy Slavitt says that the insurers should have started with higher premiums, and the annual premium increases should have been greater.

Slavitt says that nobody could have known what it would cost to insure sick people, and, by implication, certainly not even the insurers.

But we, as a nation, are paying an extra half trillion dollars in administrative expenses to maintain our fragmented multi-payer system just to keep the private insurers in control of a major portion of our health care dollars. And their actuaries cannot even figure out how much money they need? Isn't that fundamental to their business model?

Do we really want to keep on doing this? Or do we want to fill in our gaps in health care with that half trillion dollars? It doesn’t seem to be that difficult of a decision.