Kansas Insurance Commissioner candidate Beverly Gossage talks with Kansas 125th State House District candidate Shannon Francis Tuesday at a meet-and-greet for Gossage at Spencer Browne’s in Liberal. L&T photos/Robert Pierce
By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
Beverly Gossage became a licensed insurance agent in 2002, and through that job, she has written group and individual policies for health, life, disability accident, cancer, long-term care and annuities products.
She is now licensed to write insurance in nearly half of the states, and this, she said, has made her aware of how others run their departments and furthermore, how to improve Kansas’s insurance department.
The candidate for insurance commissioner was in Liberal Tuesday at Spencer Browne’s for a meet-and-greet, and she spoke to the small crowd on hand at the coffee house.
Despite her vast background, Gossage said becoming a head of a state department was not in her plans.
“I did not want to run for insurance commissioner, but I felt I needed to,” she said.
Gossage is a born-again Christian and pro-life, and she outlined some of what she believed to be qualifications for an insurance commissioner.
“You first of all have to have somebody who has business experience,” she said. “You have to run and manage 122 people in 13 departments. You have to know budgets. I’ve been the district manager for Sylvan Learning Centers for 10 years. I had 300 employees. I know how to manage budgets.”
That led into Gossage’s next qualification, which was an education background.
“A great deal of what the insurance commissioner does and what the department does is educate people, educate consumers on how their products work and insurance plans that are available,” she said.
An insurance commissioner also needs to be an advocate, according to Gossage.
“They need to be somebody who has advocated for consumers,” she said. “Be able to help you if the insurance company has not kept their contract with you.”
Greater competition produces lower premium rates, and Gossage said creating a freer market could help with that.
“You need somebody who knows how to regulate insurance companies in a free market way to where we balance consumer protection while not running insurance companies out of the state with so many barriers that they don’t want to do business here,” she said. “You have to have that balance.”
Gossage next addressed ObamaCare, which she believes many people have been led to feel is a good thing because of what it does for those with no health insurance.
“Imagine if I said I’m going to let you bake cookies today,” she said. “You can do it however you want. Of course, you have to use our ingredients, our cookie cutters and use this example of frosting exactly like that. Whichever don’t look just like ours will get thrown out. Other than that, just use your creativity.”
Gossage said she does not merely hear from people and the media about what is going on in the insurance industry, but rather she digs deeper to find the real truth.
In reference to ObamaCare, the candidate said an insurance commissioner also needs to be able to stand up to the federal government.
“I’ve been fighting ObamaCare for years before it was called that,” she said. “I fought against RomneyCare. I testified and spoke out against RomneyCare, and I was in debates over this.”
Recently, President Obama invited some people to the White House to help fix the Affordable Care Act, but Gossage said they were not the people many would have thought.
“It wasn’t governors,” she said. “It wasn’t legislators. It was insurance commissioners.”
Gossage said of the 50 insurance commissioners in the U.S., only 11 are actually elected.
“The rest are just buddy cronies that were appointed by their governors,” she said. “They only have to answer to their governor and help them get re-elected. They don’t have to answer to the people.”
Gossage said percentage wise, few of the insurance commissioners actually have a background in the industry.
“When I tell you they wrote the model legislation for ObamaCare, does it kind of make sense why we ended up with the mess we have today?” she said. “They have no clue what they’re doing.”
Gossage said she has a simple list of solutions for the ACA.
“We have to repeal your mess first of all,” she said. “Then we just have to get all regulation of insurance commissioners back to the states where it belongs in the first place. The federal government has no business regulating insurance.”
Gossage said many people have the misconception that health insurance costs as much as $2,000 a month for a family. She said this is because a policy is expected to cover everything “but the kitchen sink,” including abortions and birth control pills, which cost a mere $9.
“If we could get insurance back to what insurance is supposed to be, we’ll see the cost of insurance go down,” she said. “We’d actually see the cost of health care go down.”
More misinformation surrounds what insurance companies can do when a client actually has a claim.
“Private insurance companies, when you have a private portable policy, since 1996 have not been able to raise your rates because of your personal claims, nor can they take your policy away because you got sick,” Gossage said. “It’s against the law. It’s always been against the law.”
Another issue for insurance commissioners is dealing with the huge number of uninsured motorists. Gossage said bigger penalties need to be put in place for those who choose to drive with no coverage.
“Thirteen percent of the people are uninsured,” she said. “What happens? These people go to get their new tags, so they buy a policy. A month later, they drop it. We see that happening all the time. Who is going to police this?”
The problem with this, Gossage said, is the only time there is an issue is when the motorist is in a wreck or has committed a crime.
“They’re pulled over, and they prove that they don’t have insurance,” she said. “What happens then? That’s the problem. Not much happens then, and that is what needs to be improved. We need to have the hammer down more about what happens with that.”
Gossage said this is not up to the insurance department, however.
“The insurance department doesn’t make rules,” she said. “They only regulate those rules that are already made. They can certainly affect legislation by speaking out to the legislators and saying we need to do this. We need more of a penalty if these people are found to be uninsured.”
Gossage’s plans, basically, reverse the course of what has taken place in recent government history.
“Write bills that put it back in the hands of the people,” she said. “Write bills that give us more of our tax dollars. Do that. I would be very pleased if you did that.”
That plan also creates more money in taxpayers’ pockets, according to Gossage.
“We have such a mentality in this country of ‘Government has to take care of everything,’” she said. “That’s not even in the Constitution at all. If we were able to keep more of our own dollars, we would be much more charitable.”
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