United Healthcare has agreed with the New York insurance commissioner to make its filings for increases in health insurance rates public.

The decision was disclosed today by Benjamin Lawsky, who is now known as the superintendent of the New York state Department of Financial Services.

It followed discussions between Lawsky, DFS lawyers and United Healthcare officials, including Jeff Alter, United’s CEO.

United Healthcare was one of 10 insures who filed legal objections to Lawsky’s decision to make the rate increase filings public.

United does business in New York as Oxford Insurance.

Lawsky said that United Health has formally withdrawn its objections and agreed with the Superintendent that its filings should be made public.

United Healthcare has agreed that its entire application, including all required information and exhibits, will be made available to the public.

UnitedHealth’s decision terminates its challenge to the Superintendent’s decision, Lawsky said.

UnitedHealth’s position that the rate filings should be made public also substantially bolsters the position of the Department with respect to the remaining industry insurers, who are each still considering whether to appeal the October 19 decision, Lawsky said. 

“It’s absolutely essential for the public to know the basis for proposed rate increases – these filings should not be treated like classified material that only a select few may know,” Lawsky said.

“Transparency here will allow the public to rigorously comment on proposed rates and will also help promote competition,” Lawsky said.

He thanked UnitedHealth and Alter “for stepping up and becoming the industry leader when it comes to transparency.”

“The rest of the industry should now follow UnitedHealth’s lead and end their policy of secrecy once and for all,” Lawsky said.

Under a law passed in 2010, insurers are now required to seek the prior approval of the Department of Financial Services for certain health insurance rate increases.

The insurers support their rate requests with substantial detailed supporting data. Previously, those detailed filings were kept confidential.