Vermont health insurance rate hikes eased by state regulators

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The state has attempted to take steps to keep premiums from rising over a certain limit.

Health insurance price increases proposed by two major insurers in the Vermont marketplace have been slimmed down by state regulators.

The decision to pare down the requested rates took the form of a pair of rulings issued last week.

The Green Mountain Care Board issued two rulings last week that notably shrank the health insurance rate increases requested by MVP Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield for their small group and individual plans being sold on the state’s marketplace.

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The rulings still made it possible for the insurers to implement significant increases, though smaller than what had been requested. Blue Cross Blue Shield received the green light to raise its rates for individuals by 14 percent and for small groups by 13.3 percent, said the board. On the other hand, MVP Health has been given the go-ahead to raise the cost of their individual plans by up to 11.4 percent and for small groups by 11.5 percent, according to the board.

The changes to the health insurance rates will affect over 68,000 people across the state.

Those consumers are among the people who are covered through the state’s exchange and represent about 11 percent of the population of Vermont.

Even with this reduction, consumers purchasing their plans through the state exchange will still find themselves paying some of the highest rates they’ve faced in years. After all, the board is still permitting individual and small groups to experience an average increase of between 11.4 percent and 14 percent, depending on the type of coverage and the insurer providing it.

According to the board, their choice means that the average blue Cross Blue Shield individual plan will increase by $105 per month and by about $90 per month through the individual plans at MVP Health. People covered in single-group plans can expect to see increases in the range of $78 to $89 per month on average.

“While we were able to reduce these rate requests, we know that Vermonters will still struggle to pay for their health care,” said Owen Foster, chair of the board.

Last year, health insurance rate increases were also approved by the board, ranging from 11 percent to 13 percent for individual plans. Small group plans through Blue Cross Blue Shield fell by 7 percent this year, and the same happened by 1 percent at MVP, said the board.

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