Duly Noted

 Michigan to receive $1 million to help enforce rules on unreasonable health premium hikes

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the award of $1 million to Michigan to help crack down on health insurance premium increases. Michigan will use this Affordable Care Act funding to help improve the oversight of proposed health insurance premium increases, take action against insurers seeking unreasonable rate hikes, and ensure Michiganians receive value for their premium dollars. 
“The Affordable Care Act puts in place critical market reforms to improve quality and reduce the cost of health care for employers and individuals.  Increased competition, lower insurance overhead, and better risk pooling in health insurance Exchanges in 2014 are expected to reduce premiums in the individual market by anywhere from 14-20 percent according to the Congressional Budget Office,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  “Between now and then, we will continue to work with States to ensure consumers are receiving value for their premium dollars and to avoid the kind of double digit premium increases seen recently.  The State proposals approved today demonstrate the need and desire for new resources and tools to help them protect against unjustifiable premium increases.” 
The Affordable Care Act provides states with $250 million in Health Insurance Premium Review Grants over five years to help create a more level playing field by improving how states review proposed health insurance premium increases and holding insurance companies accountable for unjustified premium increases.
The grants build on the Obama Administration’s work with states to implement the Affordable Care Act. Earlier this year, Secretary Sebelius called on certain insurance companies to justify large premium increases and encouraged State and local officials to obtain stronger health insurance premium review authorities under State laws.  This increased scrutiny by the Administration and by several States has led to the withdrawal or reduction of several proposed health insurance premium increases that in some cases turned out to be based on faulty assumptions and data.
Michigan will improve the review process to include all health insurance products; increase transparency and accessibility, conducting a feasibility study on posting health insurance rate information to a proposed website; and develop and upgrade its technology.