HHS publishes insurance company denial rate information

The Department of Health and Human Services on Friday launched online information designed to make health plans' denial rates available to the public.

The information is an update to the federal Web site, which already provides health plan pricing information.

"Today, we begin to change that dynamic, and give more control to people instead of insurance companies," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote Friday in a blog.

The updated insurance finder on includes information from more than 4,000 private health plans offered by more than 200 insurers, across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to Sebelius.

In addition to providing the base price for insurance plans, the site offers new details on the percentage of people who are quoted a rate higher than the basic premium based on the individual's health status, Sebelius said.

She said the Web site is the first to provide denial rates to consumers, and the transparency is the result of regulations issued under the Affordable Care Act.

"We've also added information about Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program so that people eligible for those programs can see information such as cost-sharing for services," Sebelius said.

HHS officials plan to update the site as private insurance options become available, and will include information for small business owners, she said.

"Until now, too many Americans have lacked reliable information about coverage and faced confusing fine print and hidden limits when trying to sign up for or simply use their health insurance. Today's unveiling of the updated insurance finder will shine some sunlight on the details of how these insurance options actually work," Sebelius said. "It's a huge step toward making the healthcare system more transparent – and making insurance companies more accountable to you."