Health-insurance companies must tell customers who get a premium rebate this summer that the check is the result of the Obama administration's health-care law, according to federal guidelines released Friday.
The move is the latest sign the Obama administration is trying to draw attention to the law's benefits before the fall elections, even though the law faces an uncertain future. The Supreme Court is expected to decide in June whether its central plank-a mandate that everyone carry insurance-violates the Constitution. Mitt Romney, the presumed Republican presidential nominee, has pledged to wipe out the law if elected.
Under the 2010 legislation, insurers that don't spend a specified amount of revenue on actual medical care -- as opposed to administrative costs -- must refund the difference to customers. The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation has projected refunds would total about $1.3 billion and go to roughly 16 million people who buy their own policies or get them through an employer.
Kaiser estimates checks would range from an average of $72 for those with insurance through a large employer to an average of $127 for those who bought individual policies.
Rules finalized by the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday instruct insurers to notify recipients of rebates in the first paragraph of the mailing by writing: "This letter is to inform you that you will receive a rebate of a portion of your health insurance premiums. This rebate is required by the Affordable Care Act-the health reform law."
Republicans predicted the letters would do little to sway public opinion of the law. They cited the fact that Medicare prescription-drug rebates under the law went to millions of seniors, and public opinion on the law remains stuck.