Today the Maryland Insurance Administration posted to its website summary documents from the rate filings of 12 health insurance companies for products they plan to sell through the Maryland Health Connection, the new health insurance marketplace scheduled to open in October 2013. These summary documents, prepared and submitted by the health insurance companies, or "carriers," are intended to provide consumers with information that will help them understand requested changes in their health insurance rates, and to enhance the transparency of the ratemaking process.
The rate requests vary among carriers, as do the carriers’ approaches to completing the summary documents. The carriers maintain that because these rate filings propose new rates for new products, they do not propose any changes to rates. Nevertheless, because Marylanders who now are enrolled in products currently offered by these carriers will be directly affected by changes in product offerings and the rates for those products, the Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA) requested that the carriers attempt to estimate that impact in their summary documents. Two new carriers – All Savers Insurance Co. and Evergreen Health Cooperative − also plan to offer products through Maryland Health Connection, but do not have existing enrollees in the state who would be directly impacted by their rate requests.
By law, a carrier may not charge a premium for a health benefit plan unless and until the premium rate has been filing with and approved by the Maryland Insurance Commissioner. The Commissioner must disapprove or modify any premium rate filing where, based on statistical analysis and reasonable assumptions, the proposed rates appear to be inadequate, excessive in relationship to the benefits offered, or unfairly discriminatory. In July 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determined Maryland's rate review process to be effective. That means that the federal government will defer to the MIA on rate decisions.
Maryland Insurance Commissioner Therese M. Goldsmith issued the following statement about the rate filings:
Today’s public release of information provides consumers an opportunity to review health insurance carriers' requests for premium rates. I want to stress that these rate filings reflect the carriers' requested rates. In Maryland, the premium rate a carrier requests is not always the rate that is granted.
Therese M. Goldsmith
The Maryland Insurance Administration conducts a stringent, thorough review of all health benefit plan rate filings. Actuaries at the MIA will test the carriers' assumptions and projections in these rate filings and perform extensive statistical analyses. After their review process is complete, the Office of the Chief Actuary will make a recommendation to me. Only those rates approved by the Commissioner may be charged to policyholders.
Consumers can review their carriers' requests on the MIA's website. The MIA is accepting public comments on these rate filings for the next 30 days. Those comments will be considered in the rate review process. The MIA expects decisions on these filings to be made in July.
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