U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called on health insurance companies to stop blaming premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act.
Sebelius said the protections and out-of-pocket savings provided by the new law should have only a minimal impact on health insurance quotes for most Americans, yet several insurers are sending letters to enrollees falsely blaming big premium hikes on the new health care reform provisions.
"I urge you to inform your members that there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases," she said in a letter to America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group.
Sebelius noted that her department has provided 46 states with grants to strengthen the review and transparency of proposed premiums and will issue a regulation this fall requiring state or federal review of all potentially unreasonable rate increases filed by health insurers, with the justification for increases posted publicly for consumers and employers.
"We will also keep track of insurers with a record of unjustified rate increases: those plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014," she wrote. "Simply stated, we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections."