First it was Aetna. Now Blue Shield of California is doing the right thing. Who will be next? Health Insurers are beginning to slice premiums and rebate money to customers.
Last year, many of health care reform’s critics (on the left as well as on the right), argued that the Obama administration had made a “deal” with the private insurance industry, giving it carte blanche to continue driving health care costs skyward.
I disagreed. Certain tough provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) suggested that the insurance industry was not dictating the terms. In particular, the requirement stipulating that insurers pay out 85 percent of the premiums they receive in reimbursements to doctors, hospitals and customers signaled that insurers were not holding the pen while legislators pretended to write the bill. Under the ACA, if insurers do not meet this standard, they will have to rebate hundreds of millions to their customers. Now, this is beginning to happen.
(Insurers must pay out only 80 percent of premiums when offering insurance to small groups because in these cases, insurers' administrative costs, as a percentage of revenues, are so much higher. But this, too, will crimp net income.)