"It's not a reflection of the economy," explained Gary Cohen, Director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. "The savings reflects the different in the increase they requested and the increase they received."
Some 44 states handle at least a portion of their own reviews, but HHS handles complete reviews in the individual and small group market for Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana and Wyoming.
Some states such as Montana don't have the legal authority to review health insurance rates while others lack the resources to mount an effective review.
HHS initially earmarked $250 million in grants to help states expand the scope and quality of their rate review processes. Among the key steps taken by several states is the hiring of actuaries to review rate increases.
The HHS report was released on the same day that the Kaiser Family Foundation announced the results of a separate, unrelated study that found that a family with employer-sponsored healthcare saw their premiums increase 4.5% in 2012.
While HHS officials declined to specifically address that report's findings. Cohen said he was heartened by the fact that the premium increase over the past year was the "lowest in decades."