July 13, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Nijmie Dzurinko, Put People First! PA Campaign Team Coordinator (484) 619-2306
PA residents win first ever public hearing on rising health insurance premiums
What: Public informational hearing on proposed rate increases for individual health plans
Who: Pennsylvania Insurance Department, Put People First! PA and members of the public
When: Wednesday, July 27, 9:30 am [Public testimony begins at 1:00 pm] Full Schedule:
Where: Keystone Building, 400 North Street, Harrisburg, PA 17120
Public Utility Commission Hearing Room #1
On Wednesday July 27, Pennsylvania will have its first ever public hearing on proposed rate increases on individual and small-employer plans. The hearing, announced on July 1 by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department (PID), was the result of 8 months of pressure and negotiation between the Department and Put People First! PA (PPF-PA), a people’s organization working to increase transparency, equity and participation in Pennsylvania’s healthcare system.
“This is a people’s victory. We’re looking forward to sharing our stories and showing the impact on our families when affordable healthcare remains out of reach,” shared Kim Altland, a Put People First leader from York County.
Nearly 600 people in 26 counties signed a petition, “Listen to real people before increasing healthcare costs,” that was circulated throughout the state by Put People First members both online and hand-to-hand, delivered on May 25th. On June 1, PPF coordinated a call-in day to the PID which generated one call every 12 minutes requesting a hearing. Additionally, over 20 organizations submitted letters to the PID supporting the request for a hearing in the month of June. According to a Kaiser Health Tracking poll from earlier this year, the cost of healthcare and health insurance was the third most important issue among registered voters after terrorism and the economy/jobs.
People across the state have been sharing stories about the impact of increasing healthcare costs on their lives:
- Veronica from Greene County, who detailed the trade-offs of paying for health insurance premiums versus other necessities like housing and food costs.
- Deirdre from Columbia County, an organic farmer forced off of her farm and back into the job market because she couldn’t afford a Marketplace plan.
- Sam* from Philadelphia, who was initially elated with a premium of $0.96 in 2014, but recently dropped his insurance, which costs $288 a month this year, not including $179/month for dental insurance.
“This is about participation and transparency,” remarked Zachary Hershman of Philadelphia and the Put People First campaign team. “We appreciate the Insurance Department for demonstrating a commitment to these principles. We need a public conversation about healthcare costs that goes beyond the insurance companies’ bottom line.”
Premium increases in 2016 impacted 150,000 people across PA. Insurance companies are asking for increases of up to 44.8% in 2017.
*Name changed to protect privacy