Talk about the health care law usually focuses on millions and billions, and there are plenty of those in a report on the president's sweeping policy released by the Department of Health and Human Services on June 20. About 79 million consumers saved $3.4 billion from lower premiums as insurance companies operated more efficiently to meet the new rules.
But a smaller figure may be of more interest to consumers: $100. That's how much many health insurance consumers will get back on average under rules that ensure the bulk of premium dollars go toward medical care.
Insurers must spend 80 or 85 percent of their premium money on patient care, with the rest for profits and administrative costs. About 8.5 million consumers will get a rebate because their insurance carrier missed the target and spent too much on overhead and profits. The $500 million those consumers will divvy up in rebates is less than last year because more insurers are lowering premiums upfront, according to HHS.
Some consumers will get a check or a credit to the card account they used to pay their premiums; others will have the rebate applied to future premiums. For employer-provided coverage, the insurer can give the rebate to the company to use for the worker's benefit. The rebates must be paid by Aug. 1.
"The health care law is providing consumers value for their premium dollars and ensuring the money they pay every month to insurance companies goes toward patient care," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.
That won't be enough to win over those who detest the health care law. Groups like the Heritage Foundation say the medical loss ratio, as the regulation is called, is driving insurers out of the market.
Will next year's premiums be lower or higher? The administration can't say yet, according to a story in Modern Healthcare.com. Part of that answer, the website reported, depends on the level of competition among insurers within each state.