Lowering Insurance Costs Like 'Turning A Battleship'

Sep 26, 2013

N.H. Insurance Department Commissioner Roger Sevigny
Credit Todd Bookman / NHPR

 Insurance company executives told regulators on Thursday there’s no quick fix for the rising cost of health care in the state.

The state’s biggest carriers, as well as academics and advocates, spoke at a public hearing in Concord where they weighed in on why insurance costs in New Hampshire continue to grow. A recent UMASS study finds family premiums are the second highest in the country and the average deductible third highest.  

While the state has some authority in approving rates, Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny says there’s little the Department can do concerning price negotiations between providers and insurance companies.

“We don’t have any authority to do anything, yet we are looked at to do something,” says Sevigny.

Carriers meanwhile stressed efforts they’re making to lower cost, including better transparency, wellness programs in the workplace, and new payment models. But Pat Gillespie with Cigna says the benefits may be slow to come.

“This is like turning a battleship, nationwide. And I don’t know if there is any quick fix,” says Gillespie.

Officials also discussed a lack of competition between carriers and between the state’s 26 hospitals.