Thursday, October 29, 2009

Insurance news: Health insurance gift cards at the supermarket, "cowboys" underpricing coverage, and Aetna's financials...

The health insurance reform news today is dominated by House Democrats unveiling their legislation, including a public option. Here's the LA Times' take.

The Washington Post's Ezra Klein takes up the interesting question: Will Any States Actually Opt Out of the Public Plan?

And the Miami Herald discovers a surprising development at the local Winn-Dixie: Gift cards to help pay for health insurance.

Here in rainy Washington state, insurance commissioner Mike Kreidler's calling for legislation to help a flood-threatened area south of Seattle get coverage. An insurers' group argues that the proposal "comes too soon and goes too far," acording to this article in Insurance Journal.

There's an interesting story on the Bloomberg wire: Zurich-based Ace Ltd. CEO Evan Greenberg says that insurers are underpricing their policies, "with `cowboys' setting unreasonable rates for coverage." The article quotes another executive as saying that rates may not increase until 2011 as insurers compete for business in a shrinking market. The story also comes on the heels of this report (which, yes, I blogged about yesterday) which talks about the possibility of a long-term reduction in insurers' investment returns. (See page 57.)

At Aetna, meanwhile, 3Q profit grew 18 percent, with executives saying in an AP story that they "finally have a handle on rising medical costs" that hurt profits earlier.

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