Friday, July 31, 2009

Washington insurance news

-From National Public Radio's Morning Edition: "Health Care Costs Measured in Cupcakes" -- the story of a Seattle cupcake company owner and how health care costs have affected the bottom line. (Fun fact: employee health coverage accounts for about 25 cents of each $2.50 cupcake.) Click hear to read a print version of the story.

-From the (Vancouver) Columbian: A local woman saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in health care bills is lobbying her lawmakers -- in person -- in Washington, D.C. Click here to read the story.

Insurance regulators respond to NYT article...

Responding to a New York Times story (see the post below this), the National Association of Insurance Commissioners said today that AIG is stronger than the story -- "After Rescue, New Weakness Seen at A.I.G." -- would suggest.

"We are convinced, based on a complete, broad and deep ongoing review of all current material information, that the claims-paying abilities of these companies remains appropriate," the NAIC said in a letter sent to the Times this morning. "If this status changes, we are prepared and fully able to step in on behalf of policyholders and protect their interests."

The letter was written by Acting New York Insurance Superintendent Kermitt Brooks and Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario. Here's a link to the full text of the letter, and here's a link to more on the the NAIC response.

In the news this morning...

-"After Rescue, New Weakness Seen at A.I.G" -- The New York Times, citing state regulatory findings, reported this morning that the American International Group "shows signs of considerable weakness even after their corporate parent got the biggest bailout in history.
Click here to read the story.

(Speaking of A.I.G., here's a consumer factsheet, written to answer policyholders' questions, from the Washington state Office of the Insurance Commissioner.)

-Also in the Times, economist Paul Krugman recounts the moment when a man at a town hall meeting told U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis to "keep your government hands off my Medicare" -- and then apparently wouldn't believe that Medicare was run by the federal government.

"It's a funny story -- but it illustrates the extent to which health reform must climb a wall of misinformation," writes Krugman. Click here to read the story.

-And New York Liquidation Bureau head Mark Peters, in an op-ed piece in the Albany Times-Union, argues against proposed changes that would allow insurers to choose whether to be regulated by the states or the feds. Click here to read the story.