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Health insurers eye steep increases

With the fourth open-enrollment period set to begin this fall for the marketplaces set up by the Affordable Care Act, it’s becoming clear that the market for health insurance has not evolved as expected, or hoped.

The market is smaller than projected. The people who have bought health plans overall are sicker than predicted. And health insurers have incurred larger losses than anticipated.

As a result, some large national insurance companies, including UnitedHealthcare, Humana and Aetna, plan to abandon markets across the country next year. And health insurers in Wisconsin are proposing the largest rate increases yet for health plans sold on the online marketplaces throughout the state.

The proposed increases could range from 5.44% to 37.88% statewide, according to filings with the federal government. In Milwaukee County, the smallest proposed increase is 9.06%.

The increases could change before rates are finalized, and federal subsidies — which cap the percentage of an individual’s or family’s income that goes to health insurance — will shield most people from the increases.

But people who aren’t eligible for federal subsidies could see their health insurance premiums rise 20% or more next year.

To some degree, the increases were expected.

Two programs designed to provide a financial cushion for insurance companies facing the sweeping changes imposed by the Affordable Care Act end this year.

Health insurance companies also initially had little idea about who would buy health plans on the marketplaces, and they priced those plans too low. With two full years of claims data now in hand, the insurance companies have a better sense of how much they have to charge to at least break even.

Read more news here: http://www.jsonline.com/story/money/business/health-care/2016/08/21/health-insurers-eye-steep-increases/88807658/