The information posted by health insurers on a state website indicating they would not seek a rate increase for 2015 in Florida's individual market was "incorrect" and has been taken down, the Office of Insurance Regulation said late Tuesday afternoon.
Unfortunately, the false information came to light only after Health News Florida published an article on Tuesday with the headline: "No Rate Increase? Can It Be?"
The answer, it turns out, is no.
Some of the insurers listed "zero" instead of their real intentions in order to keep them out of the public domain, OIR's spokesman Harvey Bennett said. It is legal for them to do that under a "trade secrets" statute, he said.
The companies provided the actual rate requests to OIR, but the agency will not make them public for several weeks, Bennett said. OIR will prepare a report later in the summer.
"We do have some decreases (in premium rates) but we also have some increases," he said.
The mix-up occurred on the "I-File" system, where companies can post their filings to OIR directly. In the part that the public can see -- including the rate request -- some of the companies put incorrect information.
The site has been taken down for "unscheduled maintenance," he said. "It's my understanding that we're going to put a disclaimer on the site. This was unanticipated."
It was the insurers themselves that posted incorrect information, Bennett said. But OIR bears some responsibility for failing to see that and remove it or at least label it as incorrect, he said.
Health News Florida had checked with OIR on Monday afternoon, but was unable to speak with someone familiar with the site.