Bloomberg Businessweek, December 22, 2010

U.S. health insurers led by UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Humana Inc. must provide justification for any planned premium increases of more than 10 percent next year, according to federal rules proposed today.

States can reject higher insurer rates, while the federal government will be limited to only publishing data on premiums, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the agency writing the regulations. States may bar insurers with a pattern of “unreasonable” rate increases from exchanges where 24 million newly insured individuals will buy coverage.

The publication of rate increases and the states’ review will put insurers “under tremendous scrutiny,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said today at a press conference in Washington. “The bright light of sunshine convinces insurers to think twice and check their math.”

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