The White House is urging states to be more aggressive against health insurance companies as it looks to prevent expected and widespread premium hikes of 10 percent or more this year.
The federal health department announced Wednesday that it will dole out about $22 million to boost state-level "rate reviews," considered one of the strongest weapons against premium increases.
Under the system, health insurers are required to justify rate increases to state insurance departments, some of which have the power to reject “unreasonable” increases. With the new funding, federal health officials hope states can hire outside insurance experts to dig deeper into the proposed rates and prove the hikes are unjustified.
The administration’s latest push to control healthcare premiums comes just as proposed double-digit rate hikes make headlines nationwide.
Premiums for the most popular ObamaCare plans are expected to rise by an average of 11 percent next year, according to research by the Kaiser Family Foundation released Wednesday.
The new federal grants, described as a way to “hold insurance companies accountable for unjustified hikes” are likely to inflame an already tense relationship with health insurers.
Healthcare marketplaces under ObamaCare have had a tumultuous year. Many companies are already dealing with far less than expected in government help because of the shortfall to the ObamaCare risk-sharing funding pool. Several companies are now taking legal action to reclaim the funds.
Losses have been so severe for some companies that one of the nation’s largest insurers, United HealthCare, announced it would be pulling out of the exchanges altogether in 2017.