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New Health Insurance Rules Put Focus Back on Consumers


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Last week marked another crucial milestone in health insurance reform implementation. On Monday, November 22nd, new rules were announced, which will require insurance companies to spend the vast majority of your premium dollars not on profits and marketing, but on what you paid them for to begin with: improving your family's health. Starting in 2011, a provision in the Affordable Care Act will mandate that 80 to 85 percent of consumers' health insurance premiums go directly toward their health care. Today, many insurance companies across the country spend upwards of 40 percent of their customers' premiums on marketing, administration, and profits. This new rule will also ensure austerity and transparency by requiring insurers to publicly report where premium dollars go.

Additionally, as part of this new regulation, if insurers fail to meet the agreed upon threshold, they will be required to send rebate checks to customers. In 2011, up to 74.8 million insured Americans will be protected by this new regulation, and estimates show that nearly 9 million Americans could be eligible for rebates by 2012. I applaud this development as another important step toward putting Colorado consumers first.

In addition to the consumer protections represented by this piece of health insurance reform, I was also pleased to note the collaborative, multi-stakeholder process involved in forming this regulation. As we know very well, a one-size-fits-all approach does not work for Colorado. In coming to an agreement on how this new rule would work, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, with representatives from all 50 states, came to unanimous agreement on its structure, which provides state flexibility and the best combination of approaches from all across America.

When I supported health insurance reform, it was because of provisions like these -- that put Coloradans in the driver's seat for their own health care. Last week's announcement was an important step forward, and I will continue to fight for more consumer choice, better quality and more affordable health care.

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