As insurance companies and states begin calculating prices for health insurance plans in 2016, they are noticing one thing: A lot of insurance companies are requesting higher rates than the year before, with some increases in the double digits. The potentially more expensive plans were found both on exchanges created by Obamacare and elsewhere, including through employers.
In Georgia, one insurance company requested an increase as high as 64.2 percent, the Albany Herald reported. That jump was not the norm, however, as most requested rate increases in the state hovered between 10 percent and 20 percent. Given that such requests were just that, and not final, they were subject to change.
"We can reject rates that are excessive, inadequate or overly discriminatory," said Jay Florence, assistant insurance commissioner of Georgia, as the Herald reported, and rate requests in the state are currently under review. Still, at least one expert noted that the increases were higher than had been seen in the past four years.
In Tennessee, the average rate increase BlueCross BlueShield requested was 36 percent, while the average requested increase in Louisiana for 2016 amounted to 16 percent. Soaring prices of specialty drugs, such as Sovaldi, which treats Hepatitis C, was one reason for the increase, said Jerry Burgess, CEO of the Community Health Alliance in Tennessee, as iFreePress reported. Others suggested that higher administrative costs and a lower-than-expected number of healthy people signing up for health insurance had also put pressure on the price of insurance.
One caveat was that those insurers whose requested rates were not slated to go up by more than 10 percent have not been published. As a result, some people may draw inaccurate conclusions about the overall picture of health insurance rates next year, the New York Times pointed out after the federal government released information in early June about plans with requested increases of more than 10 percent.
More than eight out of 10 people who bought health insurance through the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov, qualified for tax credits to help pay for that coverage, according to data recently released by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. As such, in states that offer healthcare plans through the federal exchange, about 80 percent of customers could access a plan whose final cost amounted to less than $100 per month, while roughly seven out of 10 had access to plans costing less than $50 per month.
The deadline for all states to publish final rates for health insurance is Nov. 1. Requested rates by state can be found here.