Missouri lags behind in insurance pricing transparency

Health insurance carriers all across the country are disclosing what they plan to charge customers for coverage in 2015 — almost everywhere, that is, except Missouri.

In Connecticut, for example, Anthem Health Plans Inc. submitted its rates to the state’s insurance department in May, requesting an average increase of 12.5 percent. The state denied the request on July 25. Anthem has until Aug. 31 to submit revised rates.

“We fairly dramatically pushed back on them,” said Anne Melissa Dowling, deputy commissioner of Connecticut’s Insurance Department. “They cannot sell this product without our assent.”

In Kansas, Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger also is receiving insurance carriers’ rates for 2015. Her department has 30 days to review the plans. If her department is uncomfortable with any proposed rate increases, Praeger steps in. She said, in most cases, she is able to negotiate a lower rate with the carrier.

And just this month, Illinois, which has rate review authority, opened up rate filing forms from insurers to the public via an online portal. Now the public can view what plans insurers will sell and how much they will charge.

Connecticut, Kansas and Illinois are among a long list of states and the District of Columbia that have some sort of authority to review insurance rates, meaning pricing, before plans are sold.

 But that type of authority does not exist in Missouri.

The Show-Me State is one of the only states that does not have the ability to review health insurance rates. Wyoming is close behind; it has only the ability to review rates for health maintenance organizations, or HMOs.

Advocates say it’s time for a change in Missouri.

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Source: STL Today