Regulators approve premium jumps averaging as much as 49 percent for some in Minnesota
Much to the dismay of people who buy health insurance on their own, premiums for thousands in Minnesota’s individual market are going way up.
The state Commerce Department said Thursday that rates will increase an average of nearly 50 percent at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota — the largest insurer in the market — and anywhere from 14 percent to 39 percent on average at four other insurers in the state that sell the policies.
The jumps apply only to the state’s individual market, where about 6 percent of state residents, or 300,000 people, currently buy coverage.Read more: Regulators approve premium jumps averaging as much as 49 percent for some in Minnesota
Even so, the increases renewed a broader debate about the Affordable Care Act and the state’s MNsure exchange, as consumers started scrambling for ways to deal with the financial pain.
“I can’t take an additional $8,000 automatic increase in medical without doing something about it,” said Cindy Penning, 58, of Wilmont who currently buys individual coverage for her family of five.
Penning echoed the advice offered by state officials on Thursday by saying she would shop for a different insurance policy with more affordable premiums. She will also search out whether the family qualifies for tax credits through MNsure.
Kristi Nelson of Hastings said she will look for ways to handle next year’s increase, too, but said future spikes would prompt her to consider dropping coverage. “You can only afford what you can afford,” Nelson said.
Premium increases announced Thursday were justified by actuarial evidence showing that care costs are exceeding premium revenue, said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman during a news conference near the Capitol. Rothman said insurers pointed to sicker, more costly patients in the individual market, plus rising prices for health care services.
Even so, the increases are “unacceptably high,” Rothman said, adding that he would push for regulatory changes to better spread costs in the future.
The insurance market for people under age 65 who don’t get health insurance from an employer is undergoing fundamental changes with the federal Affordable Care Act.
The health law eliminated pre-existing condition exclusions that insurance companies previously used to control costs in the individual market.
The law also created new online marketplaces like MNsure and extended tax credits to shoppers. It imposed tax penalties on people who lack coverage, and required public notice when health insurers seek rate increases of 10 percent or more.
‘Tied our hands’
This summer, all five companies in Minnesota’s individual market sought increases in excess of 10 percent, including a requested spike of more than 50 percent by Blue Cross. Rothman said his department negotiated slightly lower increases, but said the public nature of the proposals made things more difficult.
“When Blue Cross and Blue Shield filed higher rate increases in the mid-50 percent range, it made all the other insurers want to change and increase their rates, too,” Rothman said. “This effectively tied our hands, in some respects.”
In a statement, Blue Cross said the approved rates for 2016 could “mitigate the impact” of rising medical claims. But the insurer added: “Even with these increases, Blue Cross is likely to experience continued significant financial losses through 2016.”
The Democrats relied on the lack of transparency and the stupidity of their voters to pass Obamacare. Will the Democrats and their supporters ever accept blame for this disaster ?
Deception by design.