NJ To Receive $1 Million To Help Crack Down On Unreasonable Health Insurance Premium Hikes

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STATE – New Jersey will receive $1 million to help crack down on health insurance premium increases, U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Monday.  New Jersey will use this Affordable Care Act funding to help improve the oversight of proposed health insurance premium increases, take action against insurers seeking unreasonable rate hikes, and ensure New Jerseyans receive value for their premium dollars.

“The Affordable Care Act puts in place critical market reforms to improve quality and reduce the cost of health care for employers and individuals.  Increased competition, lower insurance overhead, and better risk pooling in health insurance Exchanges in 2014 are expected to reduce premiums in the individual market by anywhere from 14-20 percent according to the Congressional Budget Office,” said Sebelius.

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The Affordable Care Act provides States with $250 million in Health Insurance Premium Review Grants over five years to help create a more level playing field by improving how states review proposed health insurance premium increases and holding insurance companies accountable for unjustified premium increases.  Applications for the first round of Health Insurance Premium Review Grants were made available on June 7.

According to its grant application, New Jersey intends to use its funding to:

* Improve the Review Process: Currently, individual and small group health insurance premiums are reviewed by a credentialed actuary.  New Jersey will contract with an actuarial firm for a comprehensive study and suggested redesign of the health insurance premium filing and review process to include standardization of formats, electronic filing, analytical tests, economic analysis, and potentially other analyses.  The grant will also increase staff dedicated to health insurance premium review, allowing for in-depth review, systems improvements, and establishing analytical tests and economic analysis.
* Increase Transparency and Accessibility: New Jersey provides access to health insurance premium filings upon request.  The grant will enable New Jersey to establish a web site populated with rate filing information and to consult with Rutgers University on how best to provide information to the public and obtain meaningful consumer input.
* Develop and Upgrade Technology: New Jersey will capture information for reporting and analysis, with the ability to generate required reports and support economic analysis of the basis for rates.

“States will use these grant dollars in the way that makes the most sense for their insurance consumers,” said Jay Angoff, Director of the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight.  “As we continue to implement the new health insurance reform law, we will continue to work with States to ensure they have the tools they need to ensure the stability of the marketplace, keep costs low and provide consumers with increased transparency, choice and quality they need to make the best health care decisions for their businesses and families.”


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