KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Obama Administration’s Rule On Health Insurance Rebates Has Eye On Election

News outlets analyzed the political side of the new rule.

Kaiser Health News: Final Rule Issued On Consumer Rebates And Notification
Most health insurers this year must at least inform policyholders that their coverage met the minimum spending threshold under the federal health law, even if they don’t owe consumers a rebate, a final rule out Friday says (Appleby, 5/11).

The Hill: Report: Health Law Rule To Yield $1.3 Billion In Insurance Rebates
The rule, known as the medical loss ratio (MLR), mandates that insurers spend roughly 80 percent of all premiums on healthcare rather than on marketing, executive bonuses or other administrative costs. The rebates — which the Obama campaign reportedly sees as a "stealth weapon" for improving opinion of the health law — will arrive no later than August 1 (Viebeck, 5/11).

The Wall Street Journal: Insurers Must Credit Rebates to Health Law
Health-insurance companies must tell customers who get a premium rebate this summer that the check is the result of the Obama administration's health-care law, according to federal guidelines released Friday. ... Rules finalized by the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday instruct insurers to notify recipients of rebates in the first paragraph of the mailing by writing: "This letter is to inform you that you will receive a rebate of a portion of your health insurance premiums. This rebate is required by the Affordable Care Act—the health reform law." Republicans predicted the letters would do little to sway public opinion of the law  (Radnofsky, 5/11).

Politico Pro: How the White House turned health rebates into a 'Game Changer' 
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote up a blog post about the rule — explaining how the health care law, the Affordable Care Act, is “bringing value to consumers for their health care dollars.” She couldn’t blog about just the rule, though — so she also threw in a link to a sample of the letters insurance companies will have to send if a customer is getting a rebate check. (That’s not new — the administration posted the first sample letters back in February.)  (Nather, 5/11).

Time magazine posted a pdf of the sample letter from HHS that insurance companies will send out.

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