Q&A Survey: Insurance Commissioner candidates address the issues

Delaware Insurance Commissioner

In the lead-up to Nov. 8’s election, the Delaware State News will be running questionnaires from various candidates. If you’ve missed any, visit delawarestatenews.net and click on the “Vote 2016” tab.

Trinidad Navarro, Democrat

Age: 47

Occupation: New Castle County Sheriff

Family: Wife Melissa, son Jordan, daughters, Kylie and Hannah

Elective experience: Elected Sheriff in 2010, and reelected in 2014

vote-logo-2016Jeff Cragg, Republican

Age: 55

Occupation: Owner, MyMailboxStore, Investor

Family: Wife, Terry, children Chase, Tyler, Madison, Grant

Elective experience: Ran for Governor, Republican Party 2012.

1. If elected, what will citizens notice most in the change of Insurance Commissioner?

Navarro: I plan to refocus the Department to advocate for Delaware’s consumers. As Sheriff, I stood up to the big banks who weren’t paying us in a timely manner, and stood up for the rights of those foreclosed upon, returning hundreds of thousands of dollars of their money to them. I will continue in that effort for Delaware’s insurance consumers.

Trinidad Navarro

Trinidad Navarro

I intend to make the rate and merger approval  process more transparent, and hold insurance companies accountable to comply with Delaware law and their contracts with their customers. I’ll work with legislators to address discriminatory practices by the insurance companies,as well as address the driving forces of rate increases.

Cragg: I am committed to raising the visibility of the Insurance Commissioner, 1.) To increase access, so that Delawarean’s see their Commissioner regularly at events and can ask questions, express their concerns and desires and have a Commissioner that is responsive and accountable to them.  2.) An Insurance Commissioner who is much more aggressive in holding Insurers accountable for their business practices and promises they make.
It is a privilege to be an Insurer in Delaware and companies need to be responsive to all Delawareans and Delaware businesses.

2. What can be done to keep healthcare premiums and co-pays down?

Jeff Cragg

Jeff Cragg

Navarro: Each year, insurance companies submit rate change requests based on their studies of costs and member utilization. I will seek true independent actuarial studies to confront their requests, and work diligently to keep rates in check.

I will also seek out ways to bring more competition into Delaware in an effort to pressure rates lower. There have been studies done in other states such as California with insurance practices that have shown some cost savings in their respective markets. I’d look to find the best practices from around the country and try to bring them to Delaware.

In addition, I’ve found that the biggest reason for insurance costs to rise recently has been the cost of prescription drugs. Drug costs have risen at about quadruple the rate of other medical costs. We need to work with our Federal legislators to find ways to help control these costs as well.

Cragg: Competition is the short and long-term answer, pricing will come down when insurers compete against each other for your premium dollars.  Plan benefits will be improved, when insurers compete for your premium dollars.

It is job No. 1 for the Insurance Commissioner to bring and maintain competitive markets for all coverages. I believe my extensive background and education in the business uniquely qualify me to go to work for Delaware as it’s next Insurance Commissioner in order to bring more competition and better pricing, keeping premiums and co-pays down.

3. How much does the typical citizen understand about how insurance rates are determined and how they can offer their opinions regarding rates?

Navarro: I think it’s a rather clouded picture when it comes to determining how rates are set. I believe that most of  Delaware’s citizens are at a loss to understand the specific reasons and justification for insurance rates.

A huge amount of data is analyzed by the insurance companies along with utilization projections, and they come up with a rate request. The algorithms used are a mystery to me, so I intend to have a truly independent actuarial study done on the data, and make the process as transparent as possible to the public.

I intend to create a public portal on our website and give the public the clearest view possible into the process, as well as the reasons behind the rate increase requests. Once the public is aware of the process, reasons, and justification, they should be able to focus more clearly on what can be done to control or even lower costs.

I will certainly be open to public input and suggestions, and will be willing to work with legislators to address issues that can be resolved through legislation.

Cragg: Insurance is a very complex business, It is the job of the Commissioner to communicate what is complex in understandable terms and involve the public in the process of delivering insurance products that work for them and their families.

Cheaper is not always better, sometimes there is a better value proposition that may cost a little more … but that is the choice of an informed consumer. It is the job of the commissioner that folks have those kind of choices and the information to make them in their self interest. The same for Delaware businesses.

The reason for being a more visible commissioner is to provide more opportunities for Delawareans to express their opinions in addition to the formal hearings conducted around the State regarding rates and rate hearings.

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