For far too long I have seen families and small businesses fall at the mercy of insurance rate increases that often put coverage out of their reach. Additionally, far too many people are faced with increasing amounts of debt due to a lack of awareness that their insurance rates are in fact increasing, causing a significant detachment between insurance companies and their consumers.
I want you to know that today, a critical new consumer protection provision of the health care reform law has taken effect. Now, health insurers seeking to increase their rates by 10 percent or more must submit their request to state or federal reviewers to determine whether they are reasonable or not. This rate review program, created by the Affordable Care Act, will bring greater transparency, accountability, and, in many cases, lower costs for families and small business owners who struggle to afford coverage.
As a result, the next time your insurance company tries to raise your premium by double digits, it will have to give you and rate review experts a good reason, or face denial from many of our state governments. In a growing number of states, regulators now have the authority to deny or reduce rate hikes found to be excessive. Insurers that insist on going ahead with double-digit rate increases are required to post their justifications on their website, and state and federal regulators will post them as well.
Additionally, starting mid-September, consumers in every state can go to HealthCare.gov to view easy-to-access, consumer-friendly disclosure information explaining proposed increases that are 10 percent or higher than last year's rates, thus moving towards bridging the gap between consumers and insurance companies. This additional transparency will protect more Americans from unjust treatment and illegitimate activities performed by insurance companies.
As we work to improve our nations health care system through the Affordable Care Act, I will continue to ensure that the interests of the American public, and not the insurance companies, are best served.
JOE BACA, Congressman
43rd Congressional District