SB 110 refund study urged

A group of lawmakers want to study whether businesses should receive refunds if their whose health insurance rates skyrocketed under Senate Bill 110.

Sponsored by Rep. Lee Quandt, R-Exeter, House Bill 1190 calls for establishment of a study committee to look into the feasibility of mandating refunds for affected businesses.

“We were told when it [SB 110] went through that there would be caps at 20 or 25 percent,” said Quandt, who said he opposed the 2003 law that was repealed in the last legislative session. “Some people had their premiums jump 200 percent. If we did have caps, either the Insurance Department didn’t enforce them or the caps were bogus. I think we need to look at that and determine how to recoup the money.”

SB 110 – which affected the state’s smallest businesses — eliminated community rating and added risk factors that could be considered in determining a firm’s premiums. Proponents said the law would encourage competition among insurers and lower rates, but its immediate effect involved double- and triple-digit increases in premiums for hundreds of employers around the state.

SB 125 was signed into law by Gov. John Lynch last July to mitigate the more onerous effects of SB 110 by eliminating certain rating factors, establishing a reinsurance high-risk pool and capping premium increases at 20 percent.

Quandt said the committee would examine just who would be eligible for a refund. He also said the committee, if it found that such a refund were warranted, would consider several types of reimbursements, including repayments of excessive charges or discounts on current premiums.

“The form of refunds will be entirely negotiable,” Quandt said. “This is a complicated issue.”

A public hearing on HB 1190 is scheduled for 11 a.m. Feb. 2 in Room 302 of the Legislative Office Building in Concord. – CINDY KIBBE

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