Editorial: Yes On Prop. 45, A Missing Link Health Insurance

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Proposition 45 on the Nov. 4 ballot would let California’s elected insurance commissioner reject excessive health insurance rates.

The Star’s Editorial Board recommends a yes vote on Proposition 45 to provide responsible, reasonable oversight of the cost of medical coverage.

Proposition 45 would apply to roughly 6 million residents who have individual or small group coverage — businesses with 50 or fewer employees. It wouldn’t apply to large group plans, for companies with more than 50 employees.

In 1988, California voters passed Proposition 103, which gives the state’s elected insurance commissioner the power to approve or reject rates for home and automobile insurance. Since then, residents have benefited from the regulatory control that Proposition 103 provides.

Proposition 45 has a similar purpose regarding health insurance rates. So it’s not surprising that the insurance industry has poured more than $40 million into the campaign against it, far outspending the supporters of Proposition 45.

The tidal wave of money from major players in the insurance industry is a reliable sign that Proposition 45 would be good for consumers. As things stand now, there is no official in California with the power to reject excessive health insurance rates. This initiative sensibly fills that gap.

Opponents of Proposition 45 say it would create problems by interfering with Covered California, the agency that oversees the public’s access to health insurance under the Affordable Care Act; yet, other states have arrangements comparable to the one proposed in Proposition 45, and we see no reason it wouldn’t work here, too.

And it’s worth noting that Covered California negotiates with insurance companies for coverage for about 1.2 million people but has no authority to reject excessive rates. No official in California has that power.

As long as state residents are required by law to buy health insurance, common sense dictates that the state insurance commissioner should have the authority to make sure the cost is reasonable.

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