A Few Moments Can Save You A Bundle

Looking at the benefits of your health insurance policy can save you a bundle and keep a lid on the rising costs of health care. Few consumers who buy their own individual or family health coverage through an independent broker seem to know about the new federal minimum medical loss ratio (MLR) rebates.

Analysts at eHealth Inc., Mountain View, Calif. (Nasdaq:EHTH), the company that runs the eHealthInsurance.com website, have published data supporting that conclusion in a summary of results from an anonymous online survey of 348 of eHealthInsurance.com customers. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) requires most carriers to spend at least 80% of individual and small group revenue on health care and quality improvement efforts or else pay rebates.

Insurers are now in the process of filing the reports that show how much they will be sending back. Some groups have estimated the total could be over a $1 billion. House Republicans have complained about federal agencies’ spending on efforts to communicate about PPACA with consumers, and the eHealth data suggest that ignorance about basic PPACA provisions is widespread. The eHealth found that only 89% of all consumers who participated in the survey said they knew about the MLR rebate program. The percentage who knew about the rebates was somewhat higher — 18% — for participants who said they support the whole law than for participants who said they oppose the law.

Only 8% of the participants who oppose PPACA knew about the rebate program. About 89% of the survey participants, including 85% of the participants who oppose PPACA, said they think they deserve to get rebates. About half of all the consumers said they would spend any rebates on paying regular bills, and about 5% said they would use the money to buy more insurance. About 23% of the participants said they support all of PPACA and 32% oppose all of the law. About 45% said they support parts of the law.

The eHealth analysts found that what survey participants think about the price of their coverage seems to have a strong correlation with what they think about PPACA. “Those who support the Affordable Care Act are less likely to feel their insurance is affordable (35%) compared to those who oppose the law (65%),” the analysts say. The analysts found that Florida residents were the most likely survey participants to know about the rebate program. In Florida, 36% of the participants knew about the rebates. But that’s just the 1/3 of the total state residents. There is certainly more the public should know and take advantage of these rebates and save.