Consumer groups offer advice on reviewing health insurance rates

This is about the time that insurers are beginning to announce their premium rates for next year.

In Michigan, consumers can review rates once insurance companies file them. Not all states allow residents to do that. Residents can request a hearing on Michigan HMO filings but must be able to show that the rates violate the law. The public can comment on Blue Cross Blue Shield filings.

“And their comments can range from very simple ones, where an individual consumer writes in and says, ‘my proposed rate is unaffordable’, or consumers can provide a much more detailed analysis of whether a company is inflating its estimates of medical costs,” Families USA private insurance program director Cheryl Fish-Parcham said.

Many Michigan rate filings are available online, but not all of them. The director of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services has the authority to make such records non-public.

“Where this information is filed, who reviews it, whether the public can review it and, most importantly, whether the public can challenge the filings, these are all activities that vary greatly from state to state,” Consumers Union associate director of health reform policy Lynn Quincy said.

You can search through the online database of Michigan insurance filings by clicking here. The Department of Insurance and Financial Services has other information about insurance rate filings and reviews of those findings on that same website.