Aug. 02--Three months after Highmark Inc. sought a round of rate hikes from the state, it wants to raise prices on other health insurance plans.
The new filings seek 9.5 percent price increases for the 60,000 policyholders and family members covered by a variety of plans including the KeystoneBlue for Kids HMO, four "ClassicBlue" plans and three different "Special Care" plans for low-income subscribers.
If approved by the Insurance Department, the increases will give Highmark an extra $15.4 million a year beginning Jan. 1. That's on top of the extra $22.5 million sought from 100,000 customers through the May filings.
This is not to say that rate increases aren't sometimes necessary. But with nonprofit Highmark turning a profit of $444.7 million last year, holding a $4.1 billion surplus and paying its previous CEO a salary of $4 million, insurance customers would be well served if insurers were forced to make the case for a rate hike at a public hearing.
Not in Pennsylvania. The public is free to comment, but not in public -- all of which proves that the state's insurance system is stacked in favor of those who set the bills and not those who pay them.
Gov. Tom Corbett and the Legislature should follow the example of other states and give the public their due with mandated hearings on all proposed health insurance rate hikes.
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