July 18, 2019
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Obamacare insurers request double-digit rate hikes in Maine

| BDN
| BDN
The federal government forms for applying for health coverage are seen at a rally held by supporters of the Affordable Care Act, widely referred to as "Obamacare", outside the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center in Jackson, Mississippi, in this Oct. 4, 2013, file photo.

PORTLAND, Maine — Insurers on the federal health insurance exchange serving Maine have requested double-digit rate increases for 2017 in filings submitted Wednesday to state regulators.

The average increases for individual plans range from about 14 percent to 24 percent for 2017, when industry experts and specific insurers in Maine said they expected to raise rates in response to dynamics of the relatively new insurance market created by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The proposed changes to individual plans are still subject to further approvals from state and federal regulators.

A recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also found that past rate hikes were dampened for individual policyholders by federal subsidies for buying insurance on the exchange.

Almost 87 percent of policyholders on Maine’s federally run insurance exchange receive some kind of financial assistance with their plans, the department found, noting that the tax credits rise with premiums.

Doug Dunbar, spokesman for Maine’s Bureau of Insurance, wrote in an email that the increases were expected for a variety of reasons, including insurers losing federal reinsurance that helped lower their premiums.

Dunbar added that rising medical costs and the unknowns of the new plans and an insurance pool that includes many people who did not previously have insurance also added to costs.

That has been a challenge for the Lewiston-based insurance co-op Maine Community Health Options, which insures more than 80 percent of state’s individual ACA policyholders and for 2017 requested an average 22.8 percent increase in premiums.

MCHO also had the widest range of requested increases among groups of policyholders, from about 17 percent to about 45 percent.

Anthem and off-exchange provider Aetna requested average increases of 14 percent; Harvard Pilgrim requested an about 19 percent increase for its exchange plan and a 24 percent increase for an off-exchange plan.

Insurers on the small-group market have also requested rate changes, with MCHO as the only insurer to propose an average decrease in small group rates of 3.4 percent. Aetna Life requested the largest small group increase — about 16 percent.

 



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