U.S. health insurers have had to post explanations of 186 individual health insurance rate increases on the Web since new federal rate review rules took effect Sept. 1, 2011.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and state insurance regulators started the rate review program to implement a section of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA).
PPACA does not give state or federal regulators the authority to limit rate increases, but it does give HHS the authority to require health insurers to explain what HHS believes to be “unreasonable” rate increase on the Web.
The federal government’s rate review disclosure website has attracted about 50,000 visitors, officials say.
HHS officials have said in regulations that state regulators with the ability and willingness to review rate changes should review the reasonableness of any notices of increases over 10%. In states in which state regulators are unable or unwilling to review rates, HHS handles the task.
The 186 double-digit rate increases announced from Sept. 1, 2011, through March 10, 2012, could affect a total of 1.3 million people, officials say in a report on the performance of the rate review program.
HHS has reviewed 61 of the rate filings subject to reviews and completed 28 of the reviews, and state regulators have reviewed 125.
Regulators in some of the states have had the authority to reduce or reject rate increases since before PPACA was enacted, and regulators in other states have gained rate-control authority since the act was signed into law.