Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Health-insurance companies ask state for rate increases averaging 17 percent; failure of non-profit insurer blamed

Department of Insurance website
Health insurers want rate increases averaging 22.3 percent in 2017 for individual policies in Kentucky. Counting small-group plans, the overall increase would be 17 percent, "continuing a national trend of hefty hikes as insurers adapt to a market reshaped by President Barack Obama's signature health care law," Adam Beam reports for The Associated Press.

"But the rate increases, if approved by state regulators, do not guarantee double-digit increases in the monthly premiums people have to pay," Beam notes. "The base rate is one of many factors companies use to determine how much someone pays in a monthly premium. Other factors include age, where a person lives and whether the person smokes."

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The average requested increases for individual policies range from 7.6 percent for Aetna Health Inc. to 33.7 percent for Louisville-based Humana Inc., which said recently that it was losing money on Obamacare plans and is working on a merger with Aetna (to which Missouri objected this week). Baptist Health Plan wants 26.68 percent more, Anthem Health Plans 22.9 percent, and CareSource 20.55 percent, all on average.

“The Department of Insurance will fully investigate all proposed rate increase requests to make sure they are warranted,” Commissioner Brian Maynard said in a release. “Insurance rate increases are not specific to Kentucky; states across the nation are dealing with this issue.”

The department said some of the rate increases "appear to be attributed to the failure of the Kentucky Health Cooperative Inc.," a non-profit that was created under the reform law to provide more competition but then was not fully funded by Congress.

"The co-op went bankrupt and was placed into liquidation earlier this year, leaving other insurance companies to cover the more than 51,000 former co-op customers," the department noted. "Many of those customers were high-risk, and Kentucky’s remaining insurers appear to project that those high-risk customers will affect the risk pool." Anthem spokesman Mark Robinson told AP that the expectation of insuring co-op customers was responsible for its rate request.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. said recently that it would stop selling exchange policies in Kentucky, leaving many counties with only one insurer on the exchange. The only company that seeks to sell individual policies statewide is Anthem. It will be the only choice on the exchange in 54 counties.

However, Indianapolis-based Golden Rule Insurance Co., a United subsidiary, will sell "in all counties, off the exchange," the department said. Golden Rule, which still won't sell exchange policies, is seeking a rate increase of 65 percent.

Anthem, Aetna and Baptist will also offer non-exchange policies. Aetna plans to sell in only 10 counties: Jefferson, Fayette, Kenton, Campbell, Boone, Oldham, Trimble, Henry, Owen and Madison. Baptist will sell in 38 counties off the exchange and 20 on the exchange. Humana will sell on the exchange in nine counties (Bourbon, Bullitt, Clark, Fayette, Jefferson, Jessamine, Oldham, Scott and Woodford) and off the exchange in nine (Boone, Bullitt, Campbell, Gallatin, Grant, Jefferson, Kenton, Oldham and Pendleton). CareSource will sell in 61 counties, all on the exchange.

Consumers in Fayette, Jefferson and Oldham counties will have five insurers to choose from on the exchange. Jessamine, Woodford, Bullitt, Henry, Madison and Trimble counties will have four. Thirteen counties will have three choices, and 44 will have two. An Excel spreadsheet listing the policies for each county is available at

The filings are online at Rates must be approved within 60 days of each filing, or no later than July 11.

The administration of Gov. Matt Bevin is dismantling the Kynect health-insurance exchange and will use the federal exchange,, as a portal for enrollment in exchange policies.

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