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Health Insurers Propose Premium Rates for 2017, Public Invited to Comment

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Health insurance carriers are seeking a range of changes to the premium rates they will charge consumers for plans sold in Maryland’s individual and small group markets in 2017. The Maryland Insurance Administration has posted rate filing documents at www.healthrates.mdinsurance.state.md.us. On that website, consumers can review filings and submit comments, as well as find answers to frequently asked questions about the rate review process.

The proposed rates are for plans that comply with the Affordable Care Act for small businesses and individuals who buy their own coverage rather than getting it through an employer.

“It’s important to remember that these rates are what companies have requested, and not necessarily what will be approved,” said Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer, Jr. “There will be a thorough review of all the filings. As in years past, we may require changes.”

In Maryland, only those rates approved by the insurance commissioner may be charged to policyholders. Before approval, all filings undergo a comprehensive analysis of the carriers’ statistics and assumptions. Public comments are considered as part of the review process. By law, the commissioner must disapprove or modify any proposed premium rates that appear to be inadequate or excessive in relationship to the benefits offered, or are unfairly discriminatory.

Individual Plans

The following six companies currently selling individual and small group plans this year have filed to participate in those markets again next year, and have proposed the following average rate changes in the individual market.

  • CareFirst BlueChoice Inc. – a 12.4% increase
  • CareFirst of Maryland Inc. and Group Hospitalization and Medical Services Inc. (GHMSI) (both CareFirst companies) – a 16% increase each
  • Cigna Health and Life Insurance Co. – a 29.8% increase
  • Evergreen Health Cooperative – an 8.1% increase
  • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States – a 25% increase

Small Group Plans

In the small group market, the proposed average rate changes are for employer groups that renew in the first quarter of 2017.

  • Aetna Health Insurance Inc. – a 5.0% increase
  • Aetna Life Insurance Inc. – a 5.0% increase
  • CareFirst BlueChoice Inc. – a 3.9% increase
  • CareFirst of Maryland Inc. and GHMSI– a 7.4% increase
  • Evergreen Health Cooperative – a 3.7% increase
  • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States Inc. – a .3% increase
  • MAMSI Life and Health Insurance Co. (a UnitedHealthCare company) – a 0.1% reduction
  • United Healthcare Insurance Co. – a 0.1% reduction
  • UnitedHealthcare of the Mid-Atlantic – a 5.7% increase
  • Optimum Choice (a UnitedHealthCare company) – a 0.1% reduction

Public Comment

Marylanders are encouraged to comment on rate change requests during the public comment period, which is open through June 15. A public hearing to discuss the proposed 2017 Premium Rates will be held on Wednesday, July 6, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Maryland Insurance Administration, 22nd floor, Chesapeake Room, 200 St. Paul Place, Baltimore.

The Maryland Insurance Administration expects to issue decisions about rates for 2017 individual and small group products in late summer.