New law gives consumers improved access to health care information

A new law designed to give consumers easier access to information about their health insurance company was signed into law Friday by Gov. Christine Gregoire.

“Prior to this legislation, if a consumer wanted to learn more about a health carrier’s finances they had to wade through hundreds of pages of financial statements,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “Under the new Consumer Access to Health Carrier Financial Information Act, it will be easier for consumers to compare the efficiency and financial condition from one health insurer to another.”

Under the new law, consumers will have access to a variety of financial information about a health insurance company through a searchable Web page on the Office of the Insurance Commissioner’s Web site.

The information will include:

— Medical loss ratio — (the percentage a carrier pays out in benefits compared to the amount they take in)

— Administrative costs — (how dollars are spent beyond paying for medical costs)

— Average premium per member, per month

— Financial surplus

— Profit margins

“Armed with this additional information, consumers will have a better understanding of how their premium is spent and be able to compare the financial health and efficiency of health carriers when making health insurance decisions,” Kreidler added.

The bill sponsored by Rep. Tami Green of the 28th Legislative District takes effect on June 7, 2006.