Many weeks after its original target date, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners sent its proposed regulations for computation of medical loss ratios and associated rebates to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius yesterday. Secretary Sebelius must now decide whether or not to accept the proposal (ACA provides no other option) for inclusion in the full set of federal MLR regulations.
The NAIC cover letter forcefully reemphasizes state regulators’ concerns about the MLR provisions: “We continue to have concerns about the potential for unintended consequences arising from the medical loss ratio. As we noted in our letter of October 13th, consumers will not benefit from higher medical loss ratios if the outcome is destabilized insurance markets where consumer choice is limited and the solvency of insurers is undermined. This is of particular concern in the period before guaranteed issue and exchanges are implemented in 2014, as those who lose coverage may be unable to find or afford other coverage.”
The letter goes on to remind Secretary Sebelius of NAIC’s earlier point that state regulators are better able than HHS to determine if waivers are necessary: “We reiterate our request that your Department give deference to the analysis and recommendations of state regulators when determining how the new requirements will be implemented in a destabilized market.”
Finally, the cover letter reiterates NAIC concerns that insurance agents and brokers will be hard hit by the MLR provisions, since their commissions are counted as insurer expenses in the proposed MLR computation, and insurers will presumably be unwilling to cover these costs in future.
Whatever HHS’ response is to the NAIC comments, federal officials and state regulators will have very little time to prepare for their implementation on January 1, 2011, and—if there are further changes— health insurers will have even less time to decide how to respond, including whether to remain in existing markets.