Texas Applies For Health Reform Waiver That Benefits Insurers

A key consumer benefit of President Obama’s health care reform law is the Medical Loss Ratio — a requirement that insurers spend 80 to 85 percent of premium dollars on health care, rather than administrative spending, and reimburse their customers if they fail to meet that standard. Now Texas, under Gov. Rick Perry (R), is seeking an exemption from that requirement. According to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare, Texas has requested an adjustment of the MLR standard to 71 percent, 74 percent, and 77 percent for 2011, 2012, and 2013, respectively. States can apply for a waiver if they can demonstrate that insurers really will leave the state if they are forced to comply with the rate. If Perry’s request is granted, it may be a financial coup for insurers’ profits, but a blow for Texas consumers who already have to pay insurance premiums that are higher than the national average. Texas has the highest uninsurance rate in the nation.