A study issued by the Commonwealth Fund (PDF), which supports the law, concluded that almost $1 billion in rebates would have been issued to about 5.3 million people who receive coverage through the individual market if it started tracking spending in 2010, instead of in 2011. Additionally, about $1 billion in rebates or reduced premiums would have gone to about 10 million people with policies in the small- and large-group markets.
The study concluded 23% of privately insured Americans would have received rebates.
The authors of the study said it aims to predict the extent of insurance premium rebates those companies will begin issuing in August for rates they have charged since the beginning of 2011 that fell short of the required ratios.
“Cutting down on administrative and other nonmedical costs will lower premiums and help make health insurance more affordable for all,” Sara Collins, vice president of the Commonwealth Fund, said in a news release.
The study's analysis of 2010 insurance rates also found that for-profit insurance companies were more likely to exceed the spending ratio limits than not-for-profit insurers. Similarly, provider-sponsored health plans were substantially less likely to owe rebates than were other types of insurers.
If the rule started in 2010, individual market plan subscribers would have received rebates at much higher rates than people covered by small or large group policies.
The study's calculations accounted for insurance plan waivers that the Obama administration has granted to plans in seven states, which are allowed looser ratios for a limited time.
Critics have warned that the ratio limitations have caused hundreds of millions of dollars in insurer losses and those will be passed along to enrollees through premium increases.