Insurers Seeking Big Rate Increases For Next Year, Arkansas Not Likely

Jul 7, 2015

Health insurers are asking state regulators for large rate increases for next year, citing losses caused by higher-than-expected patient utilization and a sicker than expected risk pool, the New York Times reported July 4. However, in Arkansas that may not be the case.

According to the Times, Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans have asked for increases of 54% in Minnesota, 36% in Tennessee and 31% in Oklahoma, the newspaper reported. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota said it lost more than $135 million in the individual insurance market in 2014. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee lost $141 million.

Insurers say they underestimated how much enrollees would utilize services.

Also, healthier Americans have kept insurance plans that did not meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act. Marinan R. Williams, chief executive of the Scott & White Health Plan in Texas, said that newly insured Americans had avoided getting care before the Affordable Care Act, creating a “pent-up demand” that could stabilize over the next three years.

The Times reported, “It is far from certain how many of the rate increases will hold up on review, or how much they might change. But already the proposals, buttressed with reams of actuarial data, are fueling fierce debate about the effectiveness of the health law.”

For the entire New York Times story, click here.

However in Arkansas, consumers are likely to see a different scenario.

Only two insurance companies are looking at double-digit increases in premium increases and neither insurer currently participates in the state’s Private Option marketplace.

Coventry Health and Life Insurance Co. and UnitedHealthcare Life Insurance Co. serve 537 total Arkansans, according to the Arkansas Insurance Department’s (AID) Health Insurance Premium Rate Review Division. Coventry has requested a 10.5% rate increase, while UnitedHealthcare has requested a 21.2% increase. Both requests are pending.

Among marketplace insurance providers, Arkansas has five competing firms – Celtic Insurance Company, Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, National Blue Cross Blue Shield Multi-State, QCA Health Plan Inc., QualChoice Life and Health Insurance Company, Inc.

These companies submitted their rate change requests in May. By law, the AID does not have to disclose their requests if they are below 10% increases.