Scrutiny Grows On MNsure’s Planned Rate Increases
Elsewhere, Connecticut's plan options are examined, and the North Carolina Blues plan a 13.5 percent rate hike for its marketplace plans.
Experts Question MNsure Average Rate Increase Of 4.5 Percent
Almost immediately after the state’s insurance regulator earlier this month announced that rates for plans sold through MNsure would rise 4.5 percent on average, Republicans, health policy experts and other critics decried the figure as bogus and misleading. The state Commerce Department has steadfastly defended the figure — a straight average of rate changes reported by the four returning carriers to MNsure — acknowledging that some consumers will see higher or lower rate changes. State agency officials said consumers can shop around once open enrollment begins Nov. 15 “to find the best option that fits their individual health and financial needs.” But other states, like California, Colorado and Washington, report their increases in premiums for their respective exchange plans as weighted averages. Calculated that way, Minnesota’s figure for next year is not 4.5 percent, but 11.8 percent. (Lopez, 10/23)
PreferredOne Customers Will Face Rate Hikes On MNsure. How Much? A Lot Less Than 63%
The political hot potato of MNsure rate increases keeps getting hotter. It heated up quite a bit last week with PreferredOne’s statement that its individual market subscribers would see a 63 percent average increase next year. And though PreferredOne has pulled out of MNsure for 2015, its rate increase still carries significant implications for the debate over rates for those individuals who remain in MNsure. In fact, since nearly 60 percent of MNsure subscribers are currently enrolled with PreferredOne — which offered the lowest rates of all the providers — those nearly 33,000 Minnesotans are now faced with three options: staying with PreferredOne; moving to another provider; or slipping back into the pool of the uninsured. And though we currently know what the average rate increase will be if an individual chooses to stay with PreferredOne, a MinnPost analysis of 2015 MNsure rates shows that PreferredOne subscribers looking to find comparable plans through MNsure are likely to face substantial rate increases in 2015 — our sample showed increases from 13 to 44 percent — though nowhere near the increase they face if they stay with PreferredOne. (Brokken, 10/23)
Connecticut’s Obamacare Plan Options For 2015
Here's a look at the standard plans sold through Access Health CT, the state's health insurance exchange, for 2015. (Levin Becker, 10/23)
North Carolina Blues To Raise ACA Plan Rates By Double Digits
Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is set to raise rates for its Obamacare plans by 13.5 percent on average in 2015, the company announced this week, reigniting a controversial campaign issue in a battleground state weeks before the November election. Individuals that want to keep their pre-ACA plans next year — made possible by the Obama administration’s plan cancellation “transition” that allows the plans to be renewed until October 2016 — will see an even larger average rate increase of 19.2 percent, the company said. (Pradhan, 10/23)
Beyond The 'Private Option' For Expansion
Less than a year after low-income Arkansans started receiving health coverage under the Affordable Care Act’s controversial Medicaid expansion, the state is declaring its so-called “private option” experiment a success. Hospitals saw fewer uninsured patients, state coffers were spared millions in health care costs and private insurers reported record-low premium hikes. Most important, Arkansas’ uninsured rate fell from 23 percent to 12 percent, the sharpest drop in the country. But lawmakers in Arkansas have already asked the federal government for adjustments to their groundbreaking plan, under which Arkansans used Medicaid dollars to purchase private health insurance on the insurance exchange created under ACA. Meanwhile, other Republican-controlled states are customizing their own alternative approaches to expanding Medicaid to cover adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($16,105 for an individual).