While HHS is touting health insurance premium rate review as a move toward greater transparency, it may keep some information in the dark.
Not so transparent
Some data may be filed as 'confidential'
The healthcare reform law requires HHS and the insurer under review to disclose information about excessive rate increases to the public. However, according to the proposed rule, some of the rate-filing data can be categorized as “confidential.”
Information available to the public will include a description of the rate increase and factors contributing to the hike, according to the proposed rule. This will be posted to the HHS website.
While HHS is reviewing the rate increase, the insurer must submit additional data so officials can conduct an actuarial review, according to the proposed rule. It's this information that could be kept secret.
The rule allows insurers to designate this additional data as confidential. Then HHS must determine, under the Freedom of Information Act, whether it can be disclosed to the public.
Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University, said he finds this aspect of the proposed rule troubling. “HHS, I think, has been very timid in exercising its authority,” he said.
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