Keep Our Health Insurance Fair and Transparentby Barbara Warren, MD, MPH on May. 10, 2012, under Uncategorized
As part of the federal health reform law, any health insurance premium rate increase of 10% or higher now needs to become public information. The Arizona Dept. of Insurance has initiated a rulemaking on individual rates to “allow Arizona, rather than the federal government, to have oversight of proposed health insurance rate increases.”
LET’S GET INVOLVED! Here in Tucson, we have a chance to provide comment directly to the Arizona Dept. of Insurance on Tuesday, May 15, 2012 – 11:00 a.m. at the Arizona Corporation Commission, Room 222, located at 400 West Congress Street. Public comment can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org through May 24, 2012.
Here’s why we need to take advantage of this opportunity:
Recently, St. Luke’s Health Initiatives and the Arizona PIRG Education Fund issued a report Getting All the Cards on the Table: The Premise and Promise of Health Insurance Rate Review in Arizona. According to the report, the track records of states that have adopted strong rate review processes show that they meet a real need and can deliver results for consumers:
Iowa regulators found that a third of filed rate proposals were unreasonable and lowered them, saving consumers an average of 40 percent off their premiums in these cases.
In New Hampshire, rate review brought an insurer’s proposed doubling of rates down to a 12.5 percent increase.
Oregon consumers saved $25 million in the first year after the state strengthened its rate review process in 2009, requiring greater transparency and consumer participation.
The report points to the following steps Arizona should take to strengthen its rate review process:
1. Arizona should make its rate review process more effective in protecting consumers by strengthening the Arizona Department of Insurance’s authority to prevent unreasonable rate increases from going into effect. Over 30 states already have prior approval authority for at least some insurance products, including New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado.
For all proposed rate increases or decreases, insurers should be required to file a full range of information with the Arizona Department of Insurance. The Department should make this information publicly accessible, allowing consumers to judge the quality and cost of their care, and enabling advocates to more constructively engage in the Department’s rate review activities.
2. The Arizona Department of Insurance should post all rate increase information on a prominent and easy-to-use website in order for consumers to research rate filings. The Department should offer easy ways for consumers to comment on pending filings and hold public hearings on rate filings.
Let’s tell the Arizona Dept. of Insurance we want transparency and the ability to be involved.
References: See CALPIRG, Keeping Insurers Honest, May 2010, at http://www.calpirg.org/reports/caf/keeping-insurers-honest.
See Kaiser Family Foundation, State Health Facts – Rate Review, Small Group, and Rate Review, Individual, at http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparetable.jsp?ind=888&cat=7 and http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparetable.jsp?ind=887&cat=7; for the New Mexico law, see SB 208 (Feldman), Health Insurance Rate Increase Review, 2011 Regular Session, at http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/_session.aspx?chamber=S&legtype=B&legno=208&year=11.
More information can be found at www.arizonapirg.org or calling (602)252-9227.