The plan is similar to the Senate bill, including mandates that everyone buy insurance, prohibitions that keep insurers from denying coverage because of preexisting conditions and the creation of health insurance exchanges to foster competition.
There are, however, some notable new elements, including a proposal to give the federal government and state insurance regulators the ability to reject "unreasonable and unjustified" premium increases. The timing might be right for such a measure, Pollack said.
News reports last week revealed that Anthem Blue Cross, California's largest insurer, was hiking premiums by up to 39 percent on individual health insurance plans. The insurer said it was forced to do so because the economy was prompting many younger, healthier participants to drop their coverage, leaving them with too many older, sicker participants on their rolls. The company has since agreed to postpone the increases for two months while the matter is reviewed.
"Regulating premiums won't do anything to reduce the soaring costs of medical care," Karen Ignagni, president and chief executive of America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry group, said in a statement. "This would be like capping the prices automakers can charge consumers but letting the steel, rubber and technology manufacturers charge the automakers whatever they want."
Other provisions in Obama's plan include increased subsidies to low- and moderate-income families to buy insurance and gradually closing the so-called "doughnut hole" in Medicare drug coverage. Medi
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