Healthcare Premiums Set for Double-Digit Increases Again

Date: August 16, 2017

Louisianans could once again be paying significantly more for health insurance in 2018, according to the requested rate increases coming in from insurers.

Four insurers once offered plans on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace in Louisiana, but just two remain: Vantage Health Plan and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana. Vantage has requested a 28 percent average increase for 2018. Blue Cross has requested premium hikes ranging from 12 percent to 36 percent on five plans: 12 percent for Community Blue POS plans, 15 percent for Blue POS, 17 percent for Blue Connect POS, 31 percent for Blue Max, and 36 percent for Blue Saver.

Because of the uncertainty swirling around the insurance marketplace and the future of the ACA in general, insurers are basing rate increases on proposed changes from the federal government. These include ending the cost-sharing subsidy payments to insurers, which help offset the lower-cost premiums paid by low-income insureds, and dropping enforcement of the individual mandate, which will decrease the number of young, healthy people who purchase plans, thereby driving up costs.

Insurers have said that, if not for these factors, rate increases would more likely be in the single-digit range. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana spokesman John Maginnis told The Advocate that the insurer is prepared to resubmit filings with lower rates if there is movement from the federal government that would provide stabilization and lower costs, such as authorizing the cost-sharing payments.

The Advocate noted that the Louisiana Insurance Department isn’t authorized to approve rates, but can only review them to ensure they’re in compliance with the law and determine whether increases of 10 percent or higher are justified.


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