Monday, April 23, 2012

Premium Rate Increase Requests For Two More Health Insurers In Six States Deemed Excessive

In response to health insurance premium rate increases that it deemed excessive, the Department of Health and Human Services has called on Assurant Inc.'s Time Insurance Company and Bedford Park, Ill.-based United Security Life and Health Insurance Company to either offer rebates to customers in six states or rescind premium hikes ranging up to 24 percent.

The recently announced rate hikes affect about 60,000 individual and small group insurance customers in Arizona, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, and Wyoming. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires health insurers to justify premium increases of more than 10 percent but does not authorize the government to rescind those rates that are found excessive or unreasonable. In March, two insurers in nine states were found to have requested excessive premium rate increases. This latest review results pertain to two other health insurers in six of the nine states for which premium rate increases were first reviewed.

In these six states, the rate increases requested by Time Insurance for individual and small group insurance were identical to those requested by John Alden Life Insurance Company, another health insurance company doing business in the same states—for example 18 percent for individual and 23 percent for small group insurance. United Security requested the highest rate increases, 20 percent in Arizona and 26 percent in Louisiana, but up to 34 percent in Nebraska (still pending review).

"These increases are unreasonable for enrollees of these plans," said Gary Cohen, director of the HHS Centerfor Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight. Cohen said the rate changes also failed to meet federal standards requiring health insurers to devote at least 80 percent of higher premium revenues to health care services.

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