WA House OKs insurance rate review reforms

March 4, 2011

Washington House Passes Bill to Make State Review
of Health Insurance Rate Hikes More Transparent

OLYMPIA, WA – Legislation approved by the House on Friday will provide consumers with more information about proposed health insurance rate hikes when they are being considered by the Washington state Insurance Commissioner. HB 1220 now moves to the Senate for consideration.
“Consumers are used to seeing their premiums go up and up but have no way of knowing whether rate increases are reasonable,” said Laurie Sobel, senior staff attorney with Consumer Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports. “This bill will help hold insurance companies accountable and end the secrecy over health insurance rate hikes in Washington.”
Under HB 1220, the Insurance Commissioner will make most of an insurer’s rate filing open for public inspection ten days after it has submitted a complete request for a rate hike. The Commissioner will provide consumers with a plain language summary of information about the rate increase, including the reason why the insurer says it is needed, a three-year history of its rates, and how much of the consumers’ premium will go to medical care as opposed to administrative overhead and profit if the rate hike is approved.
HB 1220 would bring sorely needed transparency to health insurance practices, allowing the public to learn how insurers seek to justify rate increases, and to track rate trends and patterns for particular insurers, according to Consumers Union.
Michael McCauley – 415-431-6747, ext 126, mccami@consumer.org