Gov. Cracks Down on Health Insurers

The federal government will begin demanding more transparency from health insurers as part of the health care rules. From the Washington Post:

…next year any insurer seeking a rate increase of 10 percent or more for an individual or small group plan would be required to file financial information justifying the raise with federal and state officials. (Beginning in 2012, the percentage rate increase that triggers the review will be adjusted for each state to reflect its particular market trends.)

State authorities would then analyze the data submitted by the insurer to determine if the increase is “unreasonable.” If federal officials determine that a state lacks the resources or power to conduct such a review, the federal Department of Health and Human Services would step in to conduct it.

Either way, if a rate increase were found to be unjustified, that finding would be posted on both HHS’s and the carrier’s Web site along with the company’s financial disclosures – including, for example, how much it is compensating top executives.

The law does not give federal officials the ability to reject the rate increase outright. However, administration officials say they believe that shining a spotlight on unreasonable increases could discourage insurers from moving forward with them.

More transparency in health insurance can’t be a bad thing. That said, this is a mild step for the Obama health plan, which, while it has bigger plans waiting in the wings, could also be pending a Supreme Court battle.

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