News Column

Virginia Health Insurance Firms Rebate Millions Due to High Overhead

Aug. 6, 2012

Sarah Bruyn Jones

Health insurers owed Virginians slightly more than $43 million in rebates as part of the federal health care law.

Nearly 687,000 Virginians have received rebates on average of $115 from insurance companies because of a provision in the Affordable Care Act requiring at least 80 percent of premiums be spent on medical care as opposed to administrative costs. For employers with more than 51 workers the minimum threshold for premium dollars spent on medical care is 85 percent.

The law applies to the individual, small group and large group markets. Under the law the rebates had to be paid by Wednesday, with many people having received checks at the end of July.

In some instances the rebate could be used as a credit to offset future health care costs.

For people who receive health insurance through work, the rebate check or the credit was distributed through their employer.

At Roanoke-based MB Contractors, which currently employs 47 people, the rebate was minimal, said Christina Bradley, the company's corporate secretary and treasurer.

"It helps but it was not very significant," Bradley said. "If you look at the entire premium we spent, it is a drop in the bucket."

Since MB Contractors covers 100 percent of the employees' premium, Bradley said the company was able to keep the majority of the rebate it was due from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. That equated to about $1,300, she said. For employees who added a child or spouse, they were given a portion of about $300.

An employee's plan that covered one child, led to a rebate of about $14, she said.

Nationwide, health insurers owed $1.1 billion in rebates to 12.8 million Americans, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. On average the national rebate was $151 per family, according to the federal government.

Source: (c)2012 The Roanoke Times (Roanoke, Va.). Distributed by MCT Information Services

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