State insurance commissioners weigh insurance disclosure forms

While Thursday morning's final vote on the medical loss ratio is getting all the attention, state insurance commissioners meeting in Orlando, Fla., have been making progress on other important issues.

On Wednesday, they gave preliminary approval to the disclosure form that health insurance plans will soon have to fill out to let their customers know how they're spending their premiums. The form was approved by a subpanel of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners with only minor technical changes.

The NAIC is not expected to adopt the disclosure forms until later in the year, probably after the Department of Health and Human Services issues regulations on what constitutes "unreasonable" rate increases. Until then, liberal activists will be stepping up the pressure to expand the form to cover more issues.

California-based Consumer Watchdog is pressing for commissioners to include the following as they move forward with the disclosure forms:

• Lobbying expenditures and campaign contributions;

• Advertising and marketing expenditures; and

• Transactions and transfers of funds to affiliates.

"The whole point of the rate justification is to give consumers an explanation of why their premiums are increasing," said Carmen Balber, Consumer Watchdog's director in Washington, D.C. 

Meanwhile, the industry group America's Health Insurance Plans has been arguing against including items not directly related to the rate filing, including lobbying and marketing.