START OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD

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Delaware: 25% avg rate hikes with Trump sabotage; ~18% without

This Just In...

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield's 2018 Affordable Care Act marketplace prices will rise by 25 percent, less than it had requested.

The insurer had asked the Department of Insurance for a 33.6 percent increase in June, one month after Aetna announced it would pull out of Delaware's marketplace. The withdrawal will end its coverage of 11,854 Delawareans and make Highmark the only insurance provider in the Delaware marketplace. 

...Right now, about 27,000 Delawareans have health insurance through the marketplace. The rate increases will not affect Medicare, Medicaid or coverage by private and government employers. 

...Highmark's rate request was based on the uncertain future of Obamacare, especially whether the federal government would or would not enforce the mandate that makes uninsured people either opt in or pay a tax penalty, or continue to make the cost sharing reduction payments, which helps reduce prices for low-income Americans.

As I noted back in June, while there's technically 4 other insurance carriers on the individual market in Delaware, one of them is the "phantom" carrier "Freedom Life", and two of the others are divisions of Aetna (which, as noted in the article, is pulling out of the state), and the last one, Golden Rule, has only 120 enrollees in off-exchange policies; their rate change would amount to a rounding error unless substantially higher or lower than Highmark's 25% hike.

The article makes it clear that the 25% increase assumes CSR payments won't be made next year. As I also noted in June, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates CSR load adds around 11 points to Silver plans in Delaware; if spread across all plans this would amount to roughly 6.9 points, giving something close to the following:

  • CSR payments made: 18.1%
  • CSR payments not made: 25%