consumer groups say regulation is needed to deal with gaps in Obamacare law
Consumer groups say Texas needs to move quickly to regulate health insurance premiums, to make sure the costs that consumers pay don't skyrocket when Obamacare takes effect in 2014, 1200 WOAI news reports.
The problem, according to Carmen Balber of the group 'Consumer Watchdog,' is the fact that Obamacare does not include any provisions which control the costs that Insurance Companies can charge for the coverage that all Americans are required to receive.
"We have a situation where Americans will be taxed if they don't buy health insurance, but the federal government does not guarantee affordability," she said.
She says that is left up to the states.
But Texas is one of 15 states that don't regulate health insurance premiums, meaning that insurance companies will dump their extra costs for provide coverage for people with pre existing conditions on customers in those states.
To take action would require a reversal in the 'low regulation' Texas business climate that is a centerpiece of Gov. Rick Perry's job growth philosophy. Texas, for example, allows homeowners and auto insurance companies to raise rates at will, only being required later to on to defend the rates. If the state feels that the new rates are too high, the extra premiums have to be refunded, but insurance companies always appeal, and, after being dragged out in the courts for years, most of the refund money has been eaten up by attorneys fees.
Balber says lawmakers need to act next year.
"Its up to the states to act where the federal government didn't to insure the affordability of health insurance," she said. "That will mean new rules that requires insurance companies to publically justify rates and get them approved before they can take effect."