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Some health insurers want steep premium hikes; others seek reductions

Some Marylanders with individual health insurance policies could pay as much as 30.2 percent more in premiums next year, while others in the individual market could see reductions as large as 12.1 percent.

Some small businesses could be dealt a 19 percent increase in the premiums they pay for their employees’ coverage, while other small employers could pay 2.6 percent less than they do this year.

Those rates are not final, however. The changes were requested by the insurance carriers and still need to be approved by the Maryland Insurance Administration, which could very well determine that some of the requested increases are too steep.

The MIA released the proposed rates Friday afternoon for public comment. Final decisions will be made in late summer. The proposals only affect individual plans and small-group coverage — not large employer plans.

In the individual market — which consists of plans sold to people who don’t have employer-sponsored coverage — the largest rate increases were requested by CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (see below). In the small-group market, the largest increase was requested by Coventry Health and Life Insurance Co. (which is owned by Aetna Health Insurance Inc.)

The rates represent the average increase or decrease in the cost of plans offered by that carrier. The rates do not affect most Marylanders, most of whom receive coverage from a large employer, nor do they apply to “grandfathered” plans purchased before March 2010.

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield CEO Chet Burrell said the information released by the state is useless to consumers without the proper context.

“It is impossible to understand from the consumers’ point of view what they will pay without knowing how the actual premium rates compare,” Burrell said. “It is unfortunate that this information has not been made available by the MIA. We believe when rates are compared, CareFirst’s rates will be competitive and consumers will better understand what their actual choices are. We urge the commissioner to provide this information as intended under the Affordable Care Act.”

Rates proposed by carriers in the individual market for 2015:

  • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States – a 12.1 percent reduction;
  • Evergreen Health Cooperative – a 10.3 percent reduction;
  • All Savers Insurance (a UnitedHealthcare company) – a 4.8 percent increase;
  • CareFirst BlueChoice Inc. – a 22.8 percent increase;
  • CareFirst of Maryland Inc. and Group Hospitalization and Medical Services Inc. (CareFirst companies) – a 30.2 percent increase.

Rates proposed by carriers in the small-group market for 2015:

  • MAMSI Life and Health Insurance Co., Optimum Choice, UnitedHealthcare Insurance Co., and UnitedHealthcare of the Mid-Atlantic (UnitedHealthcare companies) – 2.6 percent reductions;
  • Aetna Health Insurance Inc. – a 0.5 percent reduction;
  • Aetna Life Insurance Inc. – a 0.1 percent reduction;
  • Evergreen Health Cooperative – no change;
  • CareFirst BlueChoice Inc. – a 5.7 percent increase;
  • CareFirst of Maryland Inc. and Group Hospitalization and Medical Services Inc. (CareFirst companies) – 6.7 percent increases;
  • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States – a 6.9 percent increase;
  • Coventry Health Care of Delaware Inc. (an Aetna company) – a 13.3 percent increase; and
  • Coventry Health and Life Insurance Co. (an Aetna company) – a 19.0 percent increase.

One comment

  1. gpinder@towson.edu

    So what is the rationale for the tremendous increases by some of the largest providers?