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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Affordable Care Act = $1.1 Billion for the 99%

Kate Blocher

Staff Writer

What would you do if you got a check in the mail for $150, $500 or even $3,000? I know what I would do-a little happy dance, and then I would put the money toward buying books for my upcoming fall semester.

Think it can't happen? Think again. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans are receiving rebate checks from their insurance companies. To be exact, 13 million Americans are expected to benefit from $1.1 billion in rebates by August 1, 2012. Some rebates are going to individuals and some to employers, many of them small businesses, who purchase coverage for their employees. Some consumers will get a lump sum reimbursement to the same account they used to pay the premium, and others will receive a reduction in future premiums.

I don't know about you, but all I'm used to getting in the mail from my insurance company are bills-so why are they sending out checks? Simply put, the Affordable Care Act. With the implementation of the health care law, insurance companies are now being held accountable for how they spend our premium dollars. Now, instead of our money going towards CEO bonuses, slick advertising, and administrative costs-the bulk of our premium dollars must go towards our medical care.

The Affordable Care act has put into place the "80/20 rule," which means:

[I]nsurance companies generally must spend at least 80 cents of every dollar you pay in premiums on your health care or activities that improve health care quality. If the insurer fails to meet this standard-the "medical loss ratio"-in any given year, it must pay its policyholders the difference. This could mean a rebate check or a reduction in future premiums for you and your family.

And the checks have already started rolling in. What does this mean for the millions of Americans benefiting from these rebates? They can now afford to take their family to the water park or get their car fixed. And for many Americans, struggling from paycheck to paycheck, this money could mean being able to put food on the table or paying the electric bill. For too long insurance companies have been able to spend our premium dollars on their bottom line; resulting in higher premiums. Now the Affordable Care Act is making them accountable for how they spend our money, ensuring consumers get the best value for their premium dollars.

Have you received a rebate from your insurance company or know someone who has? If so, tell us about it! Please post on our Facebook page, or tweet us @FamiliesUSA with the hashtag #mlr [1.1 billion4me]. Also, HealthCare.gov has recently launched a new tool that will allow you to enter your state and health insurance company information and see the average rebate your insurer is required to pay.

We hope you get your check soon!