Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Alien abduction insurance? Really? Really.

Bloomberg Businessweek's Joel Stonington has put together an interesting slide show of "the oddest insured things", from Bruce Springsteen's voice ($5.7 million) to the hard-working tongue of a British coffee taster ($16 million).

Arguably the most interesting detail, though, is the fact that one insurer apparently offers insurance in case you are abducted by aliens. Stonington notes that the insurer "is currently paying out on a pair of claims deemed legitimate."

See the link above for the slideshow.

Group Health seeks rate hike

Group Health Options has requested a 11.6% rate increase for its small employer plans. The rate is currently under review and if approved, would take effect Jan. 1, 2012. Group Health Cooperative filed a 0% rate change for its small employer plans.

Summaries of all individual and small employer plan rate requests and memos detailing our decisions can be found on our new Web page www.insurance.wa.gov/health-rates.shtml.

We're able to post these requests and the entire rate filings thanks to a bill passed last session (HB 1220). For years, we've heard from consumers upset with the rising costs of their health insurance - and rightly so. Health care costs are rising well above the rate of general inflation. Unfortunately, before this new law, all rate requests were considered proprietary.

If someone contacted us for information, we could only say "trust us, we carefully reviewed the rate change, and it's justified." Not a lot of comfort if you've experienced double-double digit increases year after year.

Now - thanks to this new law - you can see what we see: How your company spent your premium. and how much of it went to pay medical claims, cover administrative costs (including salaries) and how much was profit.

Our authority over these rates is still limited. If the company can justify the change and prove that the rate is reasonable in relation to the benefit the plan provides, then we must accept it. But at least now if you're paying more for your health plan, you know why.

Other insurers with pending rate requests for small or individual health plans include: Asuris Northwest Health, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest, Lifewise Health Plan of Washington, Premera Blue Cross, Providence Health Plan, and Regence BlueShield.