Signs of summer are everywhere, and while you’re enjoying your iced coffee and reading the news on your front porch it’s hard to miss the overstated headlines predicting where the 2016 proposed health insurance rates will ultimately land. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: keep calm and start making lemonade!

What are the right ingredients for effective advocacy when it comes to rate review? Well, we understand that not every state offers a robust rate review process with opportunity for meaningful public input, but that doesn’t mean your hands are tied. Here are a few suggestions to get you started on your journey to making the most of those lemons:

Contribute to the public conversation

  1. Use these talking points to respond to media inquiries about proposed rates in your state.
  2. Have a conversation with your Department of Insurance (DOI) about proposed rates in your state and ask them to use their authority to push back against unjustified increases.

Weigh in on proposed rates with your DOI

  1. Are there several insurers in your state that stick out as outliers in the spectrum of 2016 proposed rates? If you’re lucky enough to live in a state with a public process for rate review, now is the time to take a look at the outliers and push back against their justifications.
  2. If you live in a state that hasn’t reached Oregon’s level of transparency, check out the rate review website for proposed rates over 10 percent (and in some cases the rates under 10 percent). Think through which plan might be strategic to push back against (i.e. is this a plan that had a larger number of enrollees in 2015?) and write a letter to your DOI.  

Remind your state about federal rate review requirements

Were you unable to find 2016 rates on or on a state website? It’s worth reminding your state DOI that federal law requires insurers to submit to CMS and the state rate filing justifications for all rate increases. States with an effective rate review program are required to post all of the rate increases over 10 percent, along with certain parts of the rate filing justification, to either a state website or link to CMS’s rate review website. Last, but certainly not least, a state with an effective rate review program must also have a mechanism for receiving public comments on those proposed rate increases posted to their website or CMS’s.

For a more in-depth analysis of how 2016 proposed rates will affect low-cost silver plan options, see the newly released Avalere study.