The Federal Medical Loss Ratio Rule: Implications for Consumers in Year 2

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Overview

For the past two years, the Affordable Care Act has required health insurers to pay out a minimum percentage of premiums in the form of medical claims or quality improvement expenses—known as a medical loss ratio (MLR). Insurers with MLRs below the minimum must rebate the difference to consumers. This issue brief finds that total rebates for 2012 were $513 million, half the amount paid out in 2011, indicating greater compliance with the MLR rule. Spending on quality improvement remained low, at less than 1 percent of premiums. Insurers continued to reduce their administrative and sales costs, such as brokers’ fees, without increasing profit margins, for a total reduction in overhead of $1.4 billion. In the first two years under this regulation, total consumer benefits related to the medical loss ratio—both rebates and reduced overhead—amounted to more than $3 billion.

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Publication Date:
May 12, 2014
Authors:
Michael J. McCue, Mark Hall
Contact:
Michael J. McCue, Professor, Department of Health Administration, School of Allied Health Professions at Virginia Commonwealth University
E-mail: mccue@vcu.edu
Editor:
Christopher Hollander

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Health Care Coverage