Fortunately, the Obama and Quinn Administrations are doing something about that. The federal health insurance law includes a provision to help states beef up their ability to regulate insurance companies. In Illinois, we don't do that at all. One staffer at the Department of Insurance spends about an hour per insurance rate filing and they are all approved, because the Department doesn't have the ability to do anything about ridiculously high premium increases, according to this Sun-Times story.
Quinn's Insurance Director Michael McRaith is trying to change that. He wants the authority to approve or deny premium increases, so that businesses who pay them can save money and spend that money on creating jobs. About half the states do that, and I'll just bet the businesses in those states pay less for better health care because the insurance companies are regulated. From the Sun-Times story:
All insurance companies licensed in Illinois are for-profit, and state law doesn't require them to tell policyholders in advance about rate increases. It also doesn't restrict what premiums can be charged to individuals or employers with more than 50 workers. Smaller businesses have slightly more protection because state law limits how much premiums can vary from the norm.
McRaith said he's certain he'll be able to find lawmakers to sponsor a bill giving his department the authority to approve or deny increases, as about 25 other states do.
The bigger picture is that the "pro-business" agenda has been hijacked by the insurance companies and utilities. The people who create jobs have a completely different agenda than the insurance companies and utilities. Entrepreneurs want cheaper health care while insurance companies want to charge more. Entrepreneurs want to regulate insurance companies while insurance companies don't want to be regulated. Entrepreneurs want cheaper energy. Utilities want to charge more. Entrepreneurs want the government to regulate utilities to get them cheaper energy. Utilities say that's anti-business and they don't want to be regulated.
So in this particular debate, where the rubber meets the road, as to whether the Illinois Department of Insurance should be able to approve or deny rate increases from the for-profit insurance companies, the pro-business stance is to say HELL YES! For the companies that actually create jobs (like mine, by the way), including every freelancer who created their own job, we want the state to regulate insurance companies and get us cheaper premiums and force them to pay more claims. That will reduce our costs and allow us to create more jobs.
That's why I represent the Small Business Advocacy Council. Because finally there is a business organization that will represent organizations that create jobs, not just the insurance companies and the utilities. And they won't spend millions and millions fighting the federal health insurance law and the candidates who support them like the United States Chamber of Commerce is doing right now -- in the name of a "pro-business" agenda. If you don't like that, then join the Small Business Advocacy Council right now and organize with other businesses!