Update, 12:30 a.m.
At first glance, Proposition 45 seemed like a no-brainer for consumers. The measure would have given the state’s insurance commissioner the authority to reject excessive rate hikes in health insurance sold on the individual and small-business markets.
Consumers who had seen their premiums go up by double digits year after year clung to Prop. 45 as the savior.
“I felt like a frog in hot water that got hotter and hotter until it was boiling,” says Josh Libresco, a market researcher who has bought health insurance for his family on the individual market for 20 years.
But consumer voices like this were overwhelmed in the conversation around Prop. 45 by health insurance companies, including Kaiser and Blue Cross Blue Shield, which raised $43.6 million to defeat the measure. The proponents raised just $2.5 million.
“Health insurance companies have a tremendous economic stake in the outcome,” says Daniel G. Newman, president and co-founder of MapLight, a nonpartisan research organization that tracks the influence of money on politics. “There’s also billions of dollars at stake for health care consumers, but consumers don’t have millions collectively to put in favor of a ballot measure.”