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Washington governor signs insurance reform bill

May 11, 2011

Washington Governor Gregoire Signs Bill to Make Health Insurance Rate Filings More Transparent

OLYMPIA, WA — Governor Chris Gregoire signed a bill (ESHB 1220) today that requires health insurance rate filings to be made public and gives consumers access to critical information about their health insurance premiums.
“For years, insurance companies have been able to hide behind confidentiality laws to keep their rate filings secret,” said Laurie Sobel, senior staff attorney for Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports. “This new law will shine a public spotlight on health insurers’ rate hike plans and help consumers better understand why their premiums are going up.”
ESHB 1220 enacts a number of important reforms, including:
• Makes health insurance rate filings for individual and small group plans available for public inspection 10 days after the Insurance Commissioner determines that a filing is complete. Rate filings contain a health insurer’s explanations and assumptions used in developing premium rates. Filings for new products would be exempted from disclosure for one year or until the next filing.
• Provides a plain-language summary and explanation of an insurer’s rate filing to the public. After the Insurance Commissioner makes a decision on a rate, a summary of the decision must be made available to the public.
Michael McCauley – 415-431-6747, ext 126 or mccami@consumer.org