/Medical Loss Ratio: Updates and Impact

Medical Loss Ratio: Updates and Impact



Medical Loss RatioHealthcare spending is on the rise. The federal government has begun several initiatives to control costs, increase efficiency, and increase quality. Revisiting one of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) metrics, Medical Loss Ratio.

As we all know, healthcare costs are skyrocketing. The US government is trying to look at healthcare spending from all angles in an effort to control costs while increasing quality. It has become a balancing act. The evolution of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) leaves open the possibilities of re-imagining a number of provisions of the ACA increasing the effectiveness of reducing costs and increasing quality. One provisios of particular interest is the Medical Loss Ratio which was supposedly designed to add efficiency, reduce waste, and control administrative costs for a currently broken healthcare system.

Medical Loss Ratio  (MLR) Rule

MLR existed long before ACA; was used to evaluate performance of managed care companies. ACA created a federal standard and modified the calculation.

The Affordable Care Act requires health insurance companies to disclose how much they spend on health care and how much they spend on administrative costs, such as salaries and marketing. If an insurance company spends less than 80% (85% in the large group market) of premium on medical care and efforts to improve the quality of care, they must refund the portion of premium that exceeded this limit. This rule is commonly known as the 80/20 rule or the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) rule.

Modern Healthcare reports, House conservatives and outside experts doubt HHS Secretary Tom Price has legal authority to substantially revise the Affordable Care Act’s key insurance market regulations and other provisions by issuing new rules and guidance. Price could also withdraw the rule released last year that overhauled regulation of Medicaid managed care programs. If Price tries to rescind that rule, network adequacy provisions, a medical loss ratio mandate for managed care plans, and managed long-term services and supports policies would all be eliminated.

Forbes reports this week, “The Trump administration can start by modifying Obamacare’s “medical loss ratio” rules, which dictate how insurers must spend the money they collect in premiums. If or when the MLR requirement ends, maybe the MLR’s impact and importance remains a visible measuring stick of performance.

CNBC used MLR in this story, yesterday. “UnitedHealthcare reported medical care ratio, or the amount it spends on medical claims compared with the insurance premiums that it brings in, of 82.4 percent, an increase of 70 basis point. “We see a positive set up for peers based on a read through of the company’s better-than-expected medical loss ratio and strong Medicaid performance,” Piper Jaffray analyst Sarah James said.”

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