Watch much TV? Even if you only watch a little, you can't have escaped the torrent of Proposition 45 campaign ads washing across the airways, vying for consumer votes on health care insurance.
You'll recognize the names of those companies fighting Prop. 45 with tens of millions of dollars — Kaiser Permanente, WellPoint, Blue Cross/Blue Shield — the list goes on. The proponents, with far fewer dollars, include Consumer Watchdog and a number of labor groups.
So even without hearing the details, you might rightfully conclude that the battle is over something that will cost the big insurance companies big bucks, but just might be good for consumers.
And that's what Prop. 45 is all about — it's a proposal to require health insurance companies to justify rate increases and win the state insurance commissioner's approval to enact those cost hikes. The applications would bem filed under penalty of perjury and the law would allow consumers to challenge the proposals.
The proposition apples to individual and small-group health policies that cover some six million Californians — about 16 percent of the population.
It took another voter-approved law — Proposition 103, enacted in 1988 — to give the commissioner the same power over home, business and auto insurance rate increases. The state reports consumer challenges to auto insurance rates have saved consumers $3 billion since 2002, according to Prop. 45 author Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog.
The health insurance companies contend the initiative may not work with the Affordable Care Act reforms and the state's health exchange, Covered California. But many other states from Oregon to New York already operate under regulations like those proposed in Prop. 45 and they're working just fine.
Embrace the effort to block unreasonable rate hikes by companies that have been allowed to raise rates with impunity. Embrace transparency.
Vote yes on Prop. 45.