Some Idahoans due insurance rebate

Federal officials say that two health insurers owe consumers in the state more than $1.1 million.

adutton@idahostatesman.comJune 22, 2012 

About 32,600 people in Idaho will get rebates on their 2011 health insurance premiums this summer, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Thursday.

That’s an average $70 for each of the 16,000 affected families, officials said.

According to the agency, 1,083 Idahoans with individual policies will get $144,303, averaging $323 per family. About 31,500 people with small-group plans will get $980,615, or $63 per family.

Despite the agency’s announcement, the payments are uncertain. That’s because the law that requires the rebates — the 2010 federal health care reform law — might not survive. The Supreme Court is expected to rule within a week on the law’s constitutionality, which was challenged by Idaho and other states.

Am I eligible for a rebate?

Only if your insurer failed to hit a “medical loss ratio” threshold, meaning it devoted too few of your premium dollars to medical care. Generally, insurers that spent more than 20 percent of premium revenue on administration, salaries, sales and advertising must give rebates by Aug. 1.

Two companies will owe money to people in Idaho, according to the agency. It didn’t identify the companies, but Regence BlueShield of Idaho told the Idaho Statesman that it is one.

Regence spokeswoman Georganne Benjamin said the insurer will provide rebates totaling $980,000 to its members in Idaho small-group insurance plans. That is less than 1 percent of the members’ premiums and about 0.03 percent of premiums companywide, Benjamin said.

“As a nonprofit insurer, it is our goal to price premiums as close to break-even as possible when determining expected claims and administrative costs,” Benjamin said. “This has been our practice before the (new law) and will continue to be our practice regardless of any federal and/or state reforms.”

The other Idaho insurer sells insurance for individuals, the agency said.

About two-thirds of people nationwide were insured by companies that met the 20 percent standard, according to federal officials. Blue Cross of Idaho was one, said spokeswoman Karen Early. People covered by Blue Cross of Idaho shouldn’t expect rebates because the company spent “more on its members’ health care than required by law” last year, she said.

How will I get my rebate?

One of four ways:

• A check in the mail.

• A lump-sum reimbursement to the credit or debit card account used to pay premiums.

• A reduction in future premiums.

• A pass-through benefit from an employer, if the employer provided the health insurance policy.

Audrey Dutton: 377-6448, Twitter: @IDS_Audrey

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