Insurance rates are being filed, consumers need to pay attention
By Dena Mendelsohn on Friday, May 2nd, 2014
In every state this summer, customers, advocates, and politicians will hopefully stop speculating and find out what health insurance plans want to charge in 2015 – that is, if we can get the federal Health & Human Services department (HHS) to release the details of these rates. That’s why Consumers Union joined with over 60 other advocacy groups nationwide to press for transparency from HHS.
Until these rate filings are submitted, anticipating what health insurers will do falls somewhere between educated opinions and anyone’s guess. The reason is simple: many key variables are unknown. Health insurance companies have to balance their desire to push for big increases against Obamacare restrictions, and also account for ACA provisions that reduce risk and uncertainty for them. As one expert put it, trying to predict 2015 health insurance rates is like “like nailing Jell-O to a wall.”
Insurance customers, as well as organizations like Consumers Union, play an important role in calling attention to unreasonable rate hikes. Without our oversight, insurers can jack up rates with little or no justification. Depending on your state, access to rate increase details varies, but one thing remains consistent: the more voices are heard, the more pressure there is on insurers and state officials to rein in premium increases.
Accessing health insurance company rate filings ranges from easy, such as in California where almost all of them are public, to impossible, as in Florida. You can check this guide to determine what type of information you’ll be able to get in your state. For more detailed information, check out our overview that covers state laws on, public access to rate documents, and how you can get involved. Don’t let yourself be convinced that this is too complicated; your voice is too important to count yourself out!
If you are able to submit comments and participate in a hearing, that’s great. You can also write to your state regulator describing your personal story about the effect an increase will have on your family. Anything you do is better than nothing. If you want to get involved, please let Consumers Union know by emailing dena [dot] mendelsohn at consumer [dot] org or tweeting to @CU_Health. And don’t be shy: let everyone know the steps you take to contain health insurance rates by tweeting with hashtag #ratereview2015.
Keep your eyes on this blog. May is the start of the rate filing period and we will be posting a series of blog posts helping consumers navigate their way through the rate review process. For more details in the meantime, check out Consumers Union’s rate review web page and click here to join our movement and receive periodic updates and communications from Consumers Union Advocacy on this and other topics of interest to consumers like you.