Affordable Care Act, Michigan — July 30, 2014 at 12:43 pm

URGENT ACTION: Be heard on Michigan health insurance rate increases before Aug. 1


Some insurers want to raise your rates significantly for 2015. In Michigan, it’s your right to tell them how you feel about that.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has gone a long way toward making health insurance more affordable, but until there’s full reform of the insurance industry, there isn’t very much incentive for insurance companies to stop raising your rates year after year.

Michigan gives consumers a chance to comment on premium rate increases as part of the rate review process — and the time to speak up is now.

Public comments on proposed rate increases must be submitted before August 1, 2014.

It’s easy to weigh in on the cost of plans being offered through the ACA marketplace. Go to this PDF, look for your insurance company, click on the “email comment” link to tell them what you think.

Michigan consumers can voice an opinion on any proposed rate increase, but your opinion has more weight if you’re already a customer. It doesn’t have to be elaborate: Just explain why a rate increase would be a hardship to you — especially if you have a limited income — and make sure to say you’re a current policy holder and want to know the reason for the requested increase. If every consumer takes two minutes to do this, our voices will be heard loud and clear.

Under the ACA, insurers who ask for an increase of more than 10% a year must submit the rationale for such an increase to the federal government. You’ll see on the chart that many insurers are asking for increases just shy of 10%, which gets them around the federal requirement. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have to explain themselves, says Ryan Sullivan, policy director at Michigan Consumers for Healthcare.

The real question we have to get to is, ‘What is driving a near 10% increase year after year, decade after decade?’ This is nothing new. If insurance companies are profitable, and should be bringing value through economies of scale, why aren’t these savings being passed on to consumers?

In the states that are considered leaders in improving the rate review process, the initial step forward has happened by getting customers activated. Progress only begins when individual consumers start getting involved.

There’s no time to wait. Be heard now to make sure Michigan’s insurance providers — and the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) — know that unchecked increases in health insurance premiums year after year are not acceptable.

“DIFS needs to keep in mind that consumer protection is their reason for existence,” says Sullivan. “In a way, the rate review process is a lot like voting: If you don’t say anything, you know you didn’t influence anything.”

To learn more about the rate review process, visit the Policy/Advocacy page at the MCH website.