August 31, 2009 / by emptywheel


Waxman Keeps Gathering Data

On August 17, Henry Waxman requested information from insurance companies designed to embarrass them and those who attend their conferences. We later found out that Waxman had been collecting information longer than that–he started researching insurance Astroturf in July.

Today, Waxman sent letters to Aetna, Humana, Medica, United Health, Wellmark, and Wellpoint to find out whether they’ve been purging small businesses that employ someone who experiences a medical crisis.

"I began looking into the practices of the health insurance industry in the last Congress and was deeply disturbed by what we uncovered," said Chairman Waxman.  "As part of our ongoing investigation, we are now looking into the practice of health insurance companies terminating the coverage of small businesses when their employees become ill and their health insurance claims increase.  We need to better understand how widespread this harmful and destructive practice has become, and how it is impacting small businesses and their employees across the country."

"As we continue our investigation into business practices in the health insurance industry, the treatment of small businesses remains a concern," said Chairman Stupak.  "We have documented examples of insurance companies raising small business premiums by an unsustainable amount or canceling a policy once it is discovered a covered employee is sick.  Much like rescissions in the individual market, this practice is alarming.  To better understand how prevalent this practice is and precisely how many small businesses are impacted, we are asking some of the largest insurers to provide information on their small business policies."

The Committee is requesting information and documents for small group policies, including their renewal rates, factors used to determine premium rates, and the maximum premium rate increases.[my emphasis]

Now, none of this is going to do any good unless Waxman starts liberating this information  to be used in the health care fight. His request for information that should embarrass the Bayhs is due back on Friday–we’ll see whether we can make use of this information then.

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