Thirteen health insurers have filed to sell 154 individual health plans for 2017 in Washington state, both inside and outside the state exchange, and they’re seeking rate increases that average 13.5 percent.
Health insurers in Washington are requesting a sharp jump in rates for individual plans next year — up 13.5 percent, on average — and fewer options will be offered through the state-run insurance exchange, officials announced Monday.
Thirteen insurers have filed 154 individual health plans for 2017, including nine companies offering plans within the state exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder, and four selling plans only outside of the exchange.
The firms have requested rate increases ranging from a 7.4 percent jump for Coordinated Care to a 20 percent boost for Premera Blue Cross, with an average increase of 13.5 percent based on enrollment, according to figures released by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner.
By the numbers
For individual health-insurance plans:
Increase requested for Premera Blue Cross holders, highest among the providers
Amount Premera says it lost in 2015
The move comes amid predicted rises in rates nationwide as insurers say coverage required by the federal Affordable Care Act health-care law has proved to be a financial drain. In Virginia, for instance, which reports on rate requests early, increases ranged from 9.4 percent to 37.1 percent.
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Premera lost about $117 million in 2015, the company said, largely because it received nearly $412 million in premiums in 2015 but paid nearly $457 million in claims, plus about $72 million in administrative expenses, according to its filing.
As more consumers have gained confidence in the insurance exchange, use has gone up and rates have to be adjusted accordingly, said Melanie Coon, a Premera spokeswoman.
“We have two full years of data, and that is really showing us what we need to do,” she said.
Rates for 2016 rose by about 4.2 percent, but state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said the new jump was expected.
“The requested rate changes are not a surprise, as we expected insurers to make adjustments based on their earlier predictions compared to who actually signed up and what services they used,” he said in a statement. “Clearly, some of the insurers guessed better than others.”
The increases affect individual plans, not the group health-insurance plans many people receive through their employers.
All of the proposed rates, benefits and provider networks for 2017 are currently under review, Kreidler said. How much consumers pay depends on where they live, their ages, lifestyle factors such as smoking and which health plans they select.
“We know that no one wants to see their rates go up,” Kreidler said. “We will review each plan carefully over the next several months to make sure that any rate changes are justified.”
Proposed 2017 insurance-rate hikes
Following are rate increases proposed by each plan in Washington state, plus whether the insurers sell inside or outside the state exchange, or both.
Asuris: 14.5 percent, outside exchange
Bridgespan: 10.5 percent, inside exchange
Community Health Plan: 11.3 percent, inside exchange
Coordinated Care: 7.4 percent, inside exchange
Group Health Cooperative: 9.5 percent, both inside and outside exchange
Group Health Options: 14.3 percent, outside exchange
Kaiser: 10.3 percent, both inside and outside exchange
Lifewise: 10.9 percent, inside exchange
Molina: 9.6 percent, inside exchange
Premera: 20 percent, inside exchange
Regence of Oregon: 15.3 percent, outside exchange
Regence: 12.5 percent, inside and outside exchange
Source: Office of the Insurance Commissioner
Tax credits that subsidize plans within the exchange rise with premiums, which may insulate 70 percent of Washington consumers from any increase, noted Jonathan Gold, a spokesman for U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS).
He added that rates are often lower after review, despite high initial filings. Last year, the average premium rose about 4 percent, a report of states using the federal platform showed.
United HealthCare of Washington announced earlier this year that it would leave Washington’s individual market in 2017, and Moda withdrew from the state in January.
Two other statewide insurers, Premera and Lifewise, announced that they intend to stop marketing plans outside the exchange and will reduce the number of counties where they offer plans.
Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Washington’s uninsured rate has dropped to about 7.5 percent, down from 14.5 percent in 2011.
Nationwide, more than 12 million people have enrolled in the health-plan exchanges, which offer subsidized private insurance.
Consumers who want to share their views of rate increases can submit comments online at www.insurance.wa.gov/health-rates/Search.aspx.