By Robert Pear
The New York Times
The Obama administration says health insurance companies will have to report price increases, no matter how small, to the federal government so officials can monitor the impact of the new health care law and insurers' compliance with it.
Under current rules, the federal government requires insurers to report information on rate increases of 10 percent or more. New rules being issued by the administration will extend this requirement to all rate increases for all health plans sold to individuals, families and small businesses - a total of 60 million people.
Federal health officials said they needed the additional data to monitor trends in premiums as major provisions of the law take effect and more people buy insurance.
"The purpose of this policy is to identify patterns that could indicate market disruption, which could occur given the additional standards that apply" to insurance starting next year, the administration said in a justification of the rules adopted by Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services.
Under the new law, Sebelius said, she is supposed to "monitor premium increases of health insurance coverage" inside and outside the regulated state-level markets known as insurance exchanges.
Consumer advocates welcomed the new reporting requirements, saying they would enhance the ability of insurance regulators and the public to scrutinize rate increases.
Insurers object to the requirements. The federal government "is creating a hugely burdensome and expensive reporting system" that duplicates what most states already require, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association said.