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Insurers May Have to Pay Back Higher Rates Due to New Law

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MADISON, Wis. (WTAQ) - Health insurers that have jacked up rates for individuals and small employers in Wisconsin might have to give some of that money back next year.

The federal health reform law says insurers must pay out 80 percent of those premiums for medical bills. And if they don’t, the affected individuals and small firms will get rebates in 2011.

Insurers must file their first annual reports on those payments by September 23rd. And Mequon consultants Dan Musickant and his wife Lucia Lozano hope it will explain why their individual premiums went up 27 percent. About 150,000 Wisconsinites buy their own health insurance.

Nationally, the Kaiser Family Foundation says those folks paid 20 percent more this year. An industry group blamed higher medical costs, and the fact that healthy young people dropped their health coverage during the recession.

Premiums from those young people used to help subsidize the health costs of older people. State insurance officials have not regulated the market very much. Wisconsin has more competition for health coverage than many states, and state Insurance Commissioner Sean Dilweg says they’ve let the competition regulate the market. But that’s about to change under the new law.

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