KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Health Law Rebates Paid By Insurers Tally $500 Million

About 8.5 million Americans will receive rebates. The Obama administration says that means insurers are getting more efficient.

The Wall Street Journal: Insurers Issue Rebates Under New Health Law
Insurers will rebate $500 million to consumers who purchased health insurance under a provision in the new health-care law that requires companies to spend a certain portion on premiums on consumers or refund the money. About 8.5 million Americans will receive the rebates with an average rebate of about $100 per family, the Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday. That is about $50 less per family than last year, when the new provision took effect (Schatz, 6/20).

Bloomberg: Health Law Rule Saves Consumers $3.9 Billion In Premiums
Consumers avoided $3.9 billion in health insurance premium increases in 2012 partly because of the U.S. Affordable Care Act’s limits on what UnitedHealth Group Inc., Aetna Inc. and other coverage plans can charge, the government said. ... The 2010 health law, an attempt by President Barack Obama to make medical coverage more widely available and affordable, forbids most insurance plans from keeping more than 20 percent of premiums charged for profit and overhead (Wayne, 6/20).

The Associated Press: Health Insurance Rebates Decline This Year
Health and Human Services' Gary Cohen says the lower rebates mean insurance companies have learned to be more efficient, and consumers are saving up front (6/20).

Politico: Insurers Will Pay Consumers $500M Over Obamacare Rules
A state-by-state breakdown of where rebates are headed suggests recipients in Washington state will see the biggest checks, with 3,000 consumers due to receive rebates of more than $500 each. Rhode Islanders will see the least per person, with an average of $43 in rebates slated for 1,265 plan holders (Cheney, 6/21).

Reuters: U.S. Health Insurers To Pay $500 Million In Rebates This Summer
Aetna Inc, the third-largest U.S. insurer, said that MLR rebates represent 0.2 percent of the premiums it collected in 2012. "We are delivering savings to our customers through competitive pricing, rather than waiting for a rebate check," Aetna spokeswoman Cynthia Michener said in statement (Humer, 6/20).

Modern Healthcare: Medical-Loss Ratio Rules Have Saved Consumers Billions, But Will It Last?
The health reform law's provision requiring insurers to spend at least 80% of their premium dollars on medical expenses was a major factor in helping consumers save $3.9 billion in premiums last year, according to an analysis released today from the CMS (PDF). But whether that will translate into lower premiums for 2014 is up for debate (Block, 6/20).

The Hill: HHS: ObamaCare Policy Has Saved Consumers Nearly $5 Billion
The Obama administration has consistently and aggressively promoted elements of the law that have had an immediate impact, as it tries to reverse negative public opinion and sell a skeptical public on the law as its major provisions are about to take effect (Baker, 6/20).

Baltimore Sun: Health Insurers To Pay Rebates
Tens of thousands of Marylanders will get rebates from their health insurance companies this summer ... The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday that 149,961 Maryland residents would get rebates. The rebates, which average $143 per family, will go out by Aug. 1. The rebates will be given out as a check in the mail, a lump-sum reimbursement to the credit or debit card account the customer used to pay premiums, a reduction in premiums or an employer using the rebates to improve health coverage (Walker, 6/20).

MPR News: Health Insurance Rebate Coming To Some Minnesotans
A health insurance rebate could be coming to 9,161 Minnesotans. ... If insurers spend too little on health care, they must provide rebates to consumers. The rule was championed by Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken. Minnesota consumers will receive about $1.4 million for an average rebate of about $303 each (Stawicki, 6/20).

CT Mirror: Connecticut Insurers To Rebate $5.6 Million To Customers Under Obamacare Rule
More than 47,000 Connecticut residents will get rebates from their health insurance companies ... The rebates will average $168 per family and will go to people who get their insurance through the state’s individual and small-group markets. Overall, Connecticut insurers will pay $5.6 million in rebates (Levin Becker, 6/20).

In other news -

MedPage Today: Health Insurers Improve Claims Processing
The percentage of claims incorrectly processed by health plans fell for the third straight year to 7.1 percent in 2013, according to the American Medical Association (AMA). The error rate of commercial health plans in the National Health Insurer Report Card has dropped significantly since the 2011; that year, the report found that more than 19 percent of all medical claims were incorrectly processed. Last year, the AMA found about 9.5 percent of claims were incorrectly processed. The AMA released the report Monday at its annual meeting (Pittman, 6/20).

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