HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 1, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This year, the Department of Insurance continued its efforts on consumer protection and education initiatives and saved Pennsylvanians money to help advance Governor Wolf's priority of creating a government that works.
"I join Governor Wolf in believing consumer protection should be the top priority for the Insurance Department, to make sure Pennsylvanians get the most for their insurance dollar, and to help consumers understand what insurance coverage they need at various stages of their lives," Commissioner Miller said.
During 2016, the Insurance Department developed several initiatives to protect consumers, provide them with information on getting the best buy on insurance coverage, and save the commonwealth money. These include:
- Private flood insurance – The Insurance Department created a one-stop shop for information on residential flood coverage, alerting many homeowners who have been mapped into flood zones but never or rarely experience flooding that private coverage is now available, and may be significantly less expensive than the federal government run National Flood Insurance Program coverage. Information on both private and NFIP coverage is available at www.insurance.pa.gov, by clicking on "Flood" under "Insurance Coverage Resources."
- Surprise balance billing – Surprise balance bills happen when a health care consumer makes a good faith effort to use providers and facilities in his insurer's network, but somewhere during a course of treatment, receives services from an out-of-network provider or facility, and then gets a bill for this. Commissioner Miller followed an October 2015 public hearing on this issue by developing a proposal to protect consumers from these surprise balance bills, and require insurers and providers to work out payment. The commissioner continued working with stakeholders and legislators on this issue, and testified at a Senate Banking and Insurance Committee public hearing on the matter this past fall. The Senate indicated the issue is one it will be looking at closely in 2017.
- Life insurance policy finder – The Insurance Department in October announced the launch of a new service to help consumers find lost life insurance policies, or determine whether a loved one who has passed had a policy. Through this new service, insurers can be asked to search for a policy, and to notify the person inquiring if he or she is a beneficiary or otherwise legally entitled to this knowledge.
- Mental Health Parity – Commissioner Miller has made enforcement of state and federal mental health parity and substance use disorder laws a priority for her department. In October, the Insurance Department issued a notice to insurance companies outlining how these laws interact and how they must be applied for policyholders in Pennsylvania. The department also published a guide to help consumers understand how their insurance is affected by these laws in order to help them make use of the mental health and substance use disorder benefits to which they are entitled.
- Saved $2.7 Million by Change in Investment Managers: In August, Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller announced changes in investment managers for two funds which, through lower management fees, will save Pennsylvanians $2.7 million over the next five years. Having lower fund management fees allows these investments to produce the maximum return possible with the lowest cost, while making sure funds are available to provide the services for which they are needed.
MEDIA CONTACT: Ron Ruman- 717-787-3289
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Insurance Department