People who buy their own health insurance in Maryland may have to pay more again next year, likely due to costs from the coronavirus pandemic.
The three carriers offering policies on the Maryland Health Exchange or directly to consumers under the Affordable Care Act have requested rate increases from state insurance regulators by an average of 11%.
“It is clear from our ongoing monitoring of industry experience that 2021 claims have been heavily influenced by COVID-19, and that the significant differences between where we were in 2021 and where we are likely to be in 2023 must be modeled and factored into rate movements,” Kathleen Birrane, state insurance commissioner, said in a statement.
The Maryland Insurance Administration will review applications and set rates in September for the insurance, also known as Obamacare.
More than 222,000 people purchased coverage on the Maryland Stock Exchange or through insurers this year, with nearly 80% subsidized to help pay premiums. Most are not insured by their employer.
Tens of thousands of Marylanders secured insurance during special enrollment times for those who lost insurance during the pandemic. More people have been added during the pandemic to rosters for Medicaid, the federal state health program for low-income residents.
Some are now at risk of being removed from Medicaid as officials resume checking whether participants remain qualified, a practice that has been suspended during the pandemic health emergency.
Federal subsidies added to private plans during the pandemic will also expire by the end of the year if Congress does not renew them, although most people will keep the assistance to purchase their plans.
There are approximately 1.2 million Marylanders enrolled in income-based Medicaid plans and approximately 175,000 enrolled in private plans.
State regulators say they will consider pandemic-related cost and enrollment changes when approving rates, as well as the actual impact of the coronavirus on costs.
“Getting more detailed insights into how the COVID-19 claims experience influenced cost and trending patterns for 2023 will be the primary focus of our actuarial team,” Birrane said.
CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the state’s largest carrier, requested an average rate increase of 11.2% in its HMO plan, which covers more than 149,000 people. That would mean $30 more per month for a policyholder with a mid-priced silver plan, pushing it up to $353.
CareFirst requested a 25.9% price increase for its PPO plan, which covers nearly 16,300 people.
United Healthcare is seeking an average increase of 8.7% for its HMO plan. The monthly cost for a policyholder with a silver plan would increase from $28 to $363.
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Kaiser Permanente asked an average of 7.2% for its HMO plan, which covers nearly 64,900 people. This would increase the premium for a policyholder with a Silver plan from $14 to $275 per month.
“The individual and family plan prices offered by Kaiser Permanente for 2023 reflect the expected costs of providing high-quality health care and coverage to all of our members over the long term,” Kaiser said in a statement. “We believe consumers will find us a competitive and comprehensive choice when looking for health coverage for 2023.”
Small business health insurance providers have also requested an average increase of 10%.
For the current year, state regulators ended up approving personal premium increases of about 2.1% on average for the nearly three dozen plans offered by the three exchanged insurance companies.
This followed several years of significant cost reductions thanks to a reinsurance program adopted by the General Assembly which helped to offset the bills of the insurers of the most expensive beneficiaries. He replaced a Republican-killed program in the US Congress.
The Maryland Insurance Administration plans to hold public hearings on the rate applications in July.
CareFirst and United Healthcare did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.