The implementation of health reform is a lengthy process, but I think it’s kind of fun, because every so often a new element is introduced. We started by letting children stay on their parents’ plans until age 26. A good friend of mine is working hard for HHS to help get the exchanges up and running. And starting September 1 of this year, insurance companies finally had to start explaining their rate increases.
As you may recall, part of the Affordable Care Act requires health insurers to justify any annual increases in premiums that exceed 10%. On top of that, insurers are also required to spend 85 cents of every premium dollar to provide benefits to policy holders. Well, HHS has created a website that went live just last week that allows you to take a look at your insurance company and see if they’re raising rates and if so, why. The site also lets you look at the data by state, which is helpful because it might help you know whether the rate increase is happening with all insurers in your state or if you should consider switching insurers to save money–provided you have the option.
On the one hand, this site may seem simple and unimpressive. On the other hand, it’s providing information that almost none of us has ever had access to. At this point, it hasn’t got much data available, but that will change with time. If shining a bright light on the rate-hiking tactics of insurers doesn’t lead them to become more competitive, I will be somewhat surprised, and a whole lot more cynical.