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Last year one of the most aggressive price gouging health insurers in the nation, Blue Shield of California, suddenly announced they were cutting their rates and offerring rebates to their customers.

Under the initiative, most of the affected customers will see their October bills cut by nearly a third, which amounts to an annualized reduction of 2.5%. Individual policyholders will see an average savings of $80 that month, and a family of four will get an average $250 reduction. October premiums for business customers will drop about $110 to $130 per employee. Blue Shield also pledged to return money to customers in future years when its net income exceeds 2% of its revenue, which amounts to $180 million this year.
At the time I pointed out that this wasn't just a fluke.  These types of cuts and rebates are in fact required by the Health Reform Bill under it's 80/85% Medical Loss Ratio requirement.

And now, finally, it appears that other insurers are finally following Blue Shield's lead - just in time for Election Season.

By this August, insurers are projected to send consumers a total of $1.3 billion in rebates, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis released Thursday — $541 million to large employers, $377 million to small businesses and $426 million to people with their own insurance plans.

The rebates are the result of a rule in the Affordable Care Act that requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent or 85 percent of premium earnings on health care — as opposed to marketing and administrative activities — or otherwise send money back to consumers.

That's some change I can believe in.

White House Press Secretary opened his Press Conference with this News yesterday.

Assuming of course that the SCOTUS doesn't take the unprecedented and radical step of completely repealing the entire Health Reform Bill rather than simply striking the individual mandate - Kaiser Predicts that this will be the result. (PDF)

Individual market insurers expect to issue $426 million in consumer rebates this year (Table 1). Nationwide, 215 insurance plans covering approximately 3.4 million people report that they expect to issue a rebate to individual market consumers. For those enrollees receiving rebates in the individual market, the average amount is estimated at $127 per person on an annualized basis (with rebates prorated for those insured for less than a full year). The average rebate among those receiving them is expected to vary substantially by state and, within states, by insurer. When rebates are averaged by state, the largest per-person rebates would be paid to enrollees in Alaska ($305), Maryland ($294), Pennsylvania ($243), Idaho ($241), and Mississippi ($236).

By contrast, no individual market insurers in Hawaii, Maine, and the District of Columbia expect to issue rebates, and average rebate amounts in New Mexico ($1) and Vermont ($1) are expected to be so low that insurers will likely not have to issue them.
Overall, 31% of individual market enrollees are expected to receive rebates, with consumers in Texas (92%), Oklahoma (86%), South Carolina (84%), and Arizona (83%) most likely to be eligible based on insurer estimates. In all seven states that have received federal waivers to establish lower MLR thresholds, the share of enrollees projected to receive rebates and the average rebate amount are below the nationwide average.

It should be very interesting seeing how Mitt Romney, who has pledge to complete repeal "Obamacare" has to deal with these rebates arriving GOP stronghold states such as Texas, Alaska, Idaho, Mississippi, South Carolina and Oaklahoma.

Not exactly Death Panel-ish.


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