Friday, July 19, 2013

Kansans to receive $4 million in insurance refunds under Affordable Care Act, White House reports

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

Kansans will receive $4 million in refunds from insurance companies under a provision of the Affordable Care Act, according to figures released today by the White House.

The ACA requires that insurance companies spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on health care. It is aimed at holding the line on insurers' administrative costs and executive bonuses.

Nationally, what are called Medical Loss Ratio refunds, totaled $504 million, benefiting 8.5 million Americans, the White House reported. In Kansas, 83,742 people are due $4.04 million.

"Recent reports show us that this policy is working — it’s holding insurance companies accountable and putting money back into the pockets of millions of middle-class Americans in the form of refunds, reimbursements or reduced premiums when consumers don’t get the value out of their premium dollars," the White House said in a statement.

Officials said the Medical Loss Ratio provision also reduces premiums as insurance companies operate more efficiently.

President Obama and his administration also said that the new Health Insurance Marketplace, which will take effect Oct. 1, will also provide affordable health coverage for people who are currently uninsured.

In New York, officials approved rates for 2014 that are 50 percent lower on average than current rates for those buying insurance on their own. Supporters of the ACA credited that drop to the online marketplaces that they say are creating competition among insurers.

Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress continue to oppose the legislation.

On Wednesday, the GOP-controlled House voted for the 38th time to eliminate, cut funding or change the law.

Republicans say the law is unworkable and point to the administration's recent decision to delay for one year a requirement that businesses with 50 or more employees provide them with health care coverage or pay a penalty.

U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, who represents the district that includes Lawrence, said, "I voted to give both employers and hardworking Americans and their families reprieve from the president’s costly health care law. It is simply unfair and wrong to let businesses off the hook, and force the rest of America to pick up the tab.”