Commissioner fights health insurance hike - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Commissioner fights health insurance hike

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By Tayleigh Davis - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -The cost of health care just keeps going up. One major insurer is about to jack up its premiums for many Georgians by 21 percent.

The State Insurance Commissioner, who can regulate other insurance costs, says there's nothing he can do about health insurance rates.

He wants that to change. Many people will see a big spike in  health insurance premiums this year. Well Point's Blue Cross Blue shield is hiking rates by double digit percentages in 11 states including 21 percent in Georgia.

"We have no idea why Blue Cross Blue Shield is raising rates in Georgia," said Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine.

WellPoint CEO Angela Braly defended increases before a Congressional committee Thursday.

"We're fighting everyday to make sure people's health care benefits more affordable,"

In 2008, Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine pushed a bill in the General Assembly to give his office the power to regulate health insurance companies.

"They're getting a free ride and I want it to stop," Oxendine said. "it's important that our insurance department be able to review the rates."

He says the government reviews home and auto insurance, workers compensation and liability insurance -but not health insurance.

"Everywhere we go if you want to talk with someone mention insurance," said Albany health insurance provider Kirk Rouse.

Well Point's CEO told congress her company's profit margin isn't that great, but critics say WellPoint spent millions on expensive retreats. Lawmakers believe the hike is not justified.

"All insurance companies need to make a profit but it's important to have someone look over their shoulder to make sure they're being honest," Oxen dine said.

During the General Assembly session, John Oxen dine is pushing those bills that would give his office the authority to oversee health insurance companies.


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