December 21, 2010
Leading Consumer Group Says Rate Review Regulations Will Help Protect Consumers from Rising Health Insurance Costs
Statement of Community Catalyst Executive Director Robert Restuccia on the rate review regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services
"Consumers have repeatedly struggled with health insurance premiums rising faster than wages and inflation. Today, Secretary Sebelius and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) took a valuable step forward in helping to protect consumers from skyrocketing insurance costs by issuing regulations that will shine the light on insurers that propose large unreasonable premium hikes.
"These improvements in transparency and oversight, which come as part of the Affordable Care Act, are a major win for Americans who have faced dramatic, unaffordable increases in their insurance premiums over the last several years. The regulations affect individuals enrolled in small group or non-group plans - those with the least amount of bargaining power who have been at the mercy of insurance companies.
"Starting in 2011, any insurer that proposes a premium increase of 10 percent or greater must provide documentation and justification for this increase. This information will be public - posted on both the insurer's and HHS's websites, providing consumers with a rationale for increases so they know what they are paying for.
"The new regulations, which build upon federal grants for states to increase their capacity for reviewing premium rates, also leave in place state authority to review premiums. This is critical given the successful efforts by California, Connecticut, and Washington to either stop or decrease large rate increases proposed by insurers in those states. And if a state is unable to conduct a thorough review of premiums due to capacity or authority, the regulation allows HHS to provide back-up to conduct these reviews.
"It's time to put an end to unwieldy rate hikes that force families to choose between health care and other basic necessities. Today's announcement of rate review regulations is a welcome move in that direction, and Community Catalyst will submit comments to HHS to suggest ways to further strengthen these important regulations."
About Community Catalyst
Community Catalyst is a national non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to quality affordable health care for all. Since 1997, Community Catalyst has been working to build the consumer and community leadership required to transform the American health system. With the belief that this transformation will happen when consumers are fully engaged and have an organized voice, Community Catalyst works in partnership with national, state and local consumer organizations, policymakers, and foundations, providing leadership and support to change the health care system so it serves everyone-especially vulnerable members of society. For more information, visit www.communitycatalyst.org.