The Federal Medical Loss Ratio Rule: Implications for Consumers in Year 3



    ACA insurer requirement generated $5 billion in consumer savings over three years
    More insurers are lowering spending on overhead and profits in compliance with ACA requirements


For the past three years, the Affordable Care Act has required health insurers to pay out a minimum percentage of premiums in medical claims or quality improvementMLR savings 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 2013 were $325 million, less than one-third the amount paid out in 2011, indicating much greater compliance with the MLR rule. Insurers’ spending on quality improvement remained low, at less than 1 percent of premiums. Insurers’ administrative and sales costs, such as brokers’ fees, and profit margins have reduced slightly but remain fairly steady. In the first three years under this regulation, total consumer benefits related to the medical loss ratio—both rebates and reduced overhead—amounted to over $5 billion. This was achieved without a great exodus of insurers from the market.

Read the brief.


Publication Details

Publication Date:
March 26, 2015
Michael J. McCue, Mark Hall
Michael J. McCue, Professor, Department of Health Administration, School of Allied Health Professions at Virginia Commonwealth University
M. J. McCue and M. A. Hall, The Federal Medical Loss Ratio Rule: Implications for Consumers in Year 3, The Commonwealth Fund, March 2015.

Related Topics