Will higher health insurance rates keep insurers in the exchanges?
Regulators across the country are allowing insurance companies to make health plans more expensive.
State regulators across the nation have been steadily giving the nod to increased health insurance rates. In fact, many have made it possible for those insurers to raise premiums more than the companies had requested. This may appear to be in opposition to the goal of keeping rates as low as possible for consumers.
However, a data analysis conducted by USA TODAY suggested a different purpose for these decisions.
The national newspaper indicated that the regulators may be letting health insurance rates rise to stop insurers from leaving. The idea is that as long as there remains competition among insurers, rates may not be raised as much as is allowed. However, to keep the competition among the insurance companies, they must be convinced not to leave the exchanges.
The newspaper reported an approval for health insurance rates in eight states where insurers were allowed to increase premiums by at least one percent more than requested. This, according to ACA Signups.net health data expert Charles Gaba. That firm conducted the analysis on behalf of the newspaper. As of the writing of this article, those states included: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Utah.
This week, regulators in Pennsylvania made it possible for health insurance rates to increase by 33 percent.
That represents a figure that is eight percentage points greater than what insurers had wanted. The Pennsylvania insurance exchange has already lost two insurers: Geisinger Quality Option and Keystone Health Plan. They will not renew or sell new health plans on the exchange after 2016.
According to Teresa Miller, Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner, “These rate increases make it clear that Washington needs to move swiftly to address consumer needs under the Affordable Care Act.”
Gaba reported that the situation may not be dire for consumers seeking affordable health insurance coverage. “consumers, this seems terrible like, ‘Oh, they’re price gouging us,” he said about the approvals to increases in health insurance rates. “But part of regulators’ jobs is to keep insurance companies solvent so they can continue to give people insurance.”