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February 25, 2021

Gephardt: Health insurers refunding premiums during COVID-19 pandemic

SALT LAKE CITY – Millions of Americans are getting money back from their health insurance providers, or soon will be.

Normally, we don’t see insurance companies cutting checks as they tell us, “We’d like to give you some of your insurance premiums back.” However, these are not normal times and yes, the pandemic has a lot to do with it.

Remember earlier this year when tons of people got refunds from their car insurance companies? People just were not driving near as much during the pandemic. With fewer cars and fewer accidents, the car insurance providers refunded some of our premiums.

Well, move over auto insurers and leave room for health insurers to merge into your lane.

Les Masterson, an editor with Insure.com, said these refunds are actually health insurance premiums you paid over this past year. It’s not charity.

“There’s something called medical loss ratio,” Masterson said. “It’s how much money is going directly toward care.”

The Affordable Care Act mandates between 80% and 85% of premiums collected by insurance companies must go directly to “patient care.”

This year, that hasn’t been the case but not because of the insurance companies.

The Centers for Disease Control estimate 41% of American adults have avoided medical care “because of concerns about COVID-19.”

By law, millions of Americans will be getting some money back for the health care premiums they paid but you may want to put some of it away, Masterson warned.

“Claims have been down. But insurers are also kind of keep keeping an eye on it, because they’re afraid in the next couple years, they’re going to get hit with all this pent up care (from people who delayed care this year) that will come later,” Masterson explained.

If that happens, it’ll mean what Utahns pay for insurance is likely to go up in the next couple of years.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Health, insurance companies are rebating almost $2.5 billion this year. Nationally, the average amount coming back to the insured person is $219. Here in Utah, it’s a little less with an average of $136 per person.

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Matt Gephardt

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