In a final rule (PDF) published Thursday, HHS said health insurers will be required to explain large premium increases beginning Sept. 1 of this year.
The regulation, stemming from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, means the proposed rate increase of 10% or more for individual and small-group plans must be reviewed by state or federal officials beginning in the fall.
“Insurance companies continue to raise rates, often without justification and explanation,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on a conference call with reporters Thursday. “As part of the law, our department is working with states to review, revise or reject unreasonable rate hikes.”
The so-called rate review rule requires insurance companies to provide consumers with information about the increases and to post that information on their websites and the HHS Affordable Care Act website. Thursday's rule follows proposed regulations published in December, which had called for an effective date of July 1, 2011. Steve Larsen, director for HHS' Center for Consumer Information and Oversight, said HHS made changes to the proposed rule based on public comments, including one to push back the start date.