Governor Martin O'Malley and Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown joined Insurance Commissioner Therese Goldsmith in expressing support for new tools available to states today under federal health care reform to help keep insurance premiums more affordable for consumers. The new policies will intensify oversight of proposed rate increases and improve the transparency of the rate review process.
"The rapid rise in health insurance premiums over the last decade has caused increasing hardship for families and small businesses across Maryland," said Governor O'Malley. "We welcome this opportunity made available by the Affordable Care Act to do more to reverse this tide. Marylanders cannot afford to pay 10 percent more every year for the insurance coverage necessary to protect themselves, their children and their employees."
The provisions of the Affordable Care Act going into effect today subject any proposed increase in rates of 10% or more to heightened regulatory scrutiny, and they require plans to explain and justify such increases to consumers. Moreover, in a decision announced last week, Maryland will not limit its increased regulatory review to proposals to raise premium rates by 10%, but will instead expand on a phased-in basis this heightened scrutiny to all plans proposing increases of any size.
In applauding the joint state and federal action, Lt. Governor Brown said, "This enhanced public and regulatory oversight will help hold down large premium hikes and ensure better value for the premium dollar. It's yet another tool made possible by the Affordable Care Act to reduce costs, expand access, and improve the quality of health care in Maryland."
Using federal grant funds, the Maryland Insurance Administration conducted an analysis of how to improve its premium rate review process under the new federal regulatory framework, and it issued its report and recommendations last week.
"Maryland is building on its effective rate review process to do more to ensure that increases in insurance premiums are justified," said Insurance Commissioner Goldsmith. "As consumers weigh their options in choosing benefit plans, they need to know premiums are fair and reasonable."