The White House announced Tuesday that it would require health-insurance carriers to justify any increases of 10 percent or more in the premiums they charge next year.
The Affordable Care Act, signed into law this past March, calls for annual reviews of "unreasonable increases in premiums for health insurance coverage."
"The review will help rein in the kind of excessive and unreasonable rate increases that have made insurance unaffordable for so many families," said Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services.
Starting in 2012, the federal government will set a separate threshold for each state, reflecting its cost trends, and insurers will have to disclose rate increases above that level. Under the new law, insurers that show a "pattern or practice of excessive or unjustified premium increases" can be excluded from the centralized insurance market, or exchange that is to be set up in each state by 2014.
Sebelius said that since 1999, the cost of health insurance for the average working American had risen 128 percent.