Restore oversight of insurance rates
The state's largest health insurer has revealed executive salaries and bonuses.
UNUSUAL public disclosure of its executives' salaries and bonuses shows how concerned Hawaii's largest health insurance company is about a current move in the Legislature to re-establish state oversight of rates it charges customers.
With its top officer earning a $497,117 bonus over a $620,000 salary last year and customer rates set to rise in July, the Hawaii Medical Service Association apparently sought to get ahead of a revelation of the pay information by state Rep. Josh Green, a physician who is pushing the nonprofit company to boost reimbursements to doctors and is supporting a bill for rate supervision.
While the salary levels certainly raised eyebrows, they are of secondary importance to rate oversight, which the state Legislature should restore to ensure employers and other customers are paying reasonable fees.
Since June when a law expired, Hawaii has been one of only four states without some kind of regulation of health insurance costs. Legislation had been approved last year to continue the practice, but an incorrect effective date rendered it useless.
Only one of seven bills introduced this session remains alive. It would restore state scrutiny and approval of rate increases, require increased reimbursements for medical services and cap insurance company reserves at 30 percent of annual expenses. The last provision, which could hurt smaller companies whose revenues come solely from government medical programs, might need changes.
State law requires employers to provide health insurance and with Hawaii's market dominated by two companies, rate oversight should be in place.
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