Georgia: APPROVED 2019 #ACA rate hikes: 3.9%...would likely have DROPPED ~8% without #ACASabotage

2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

Busy day today! State insurance regulators around the country appear to have decided to start posting approved 2019 ACA rate filings all at once; within the past week, Vermont, Ohio, Delaware and North Carolina have posted theirs...and now you can add Georgia to the list:

The Obamacare rates for next year are in, and it’s a first: Rates are going down.

Following years of steep price hikes, two of the four companies that offer plans on the Affordable Care Act exchange in Georgia, also known as Obamacare, have proposed to lower their rates next year from what they charged in 2018.

According to figures for the individual insurance market released Thursday by the state Department of Insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia is proposing a tiny decrease in premiums for next year, with 2019 premium prices that are on average 0.3 percent lower than 2018’s premiums. Alliant Health Plans is decreasing its premiums by 10 percent.

Moreover, a spokesman for the state Insurance Department confirmed that Blue Cross still intends to return to metro Atlanta, except for Clayton and Rockdale counties. All Georgia counties will be covered by at least one policy option. The program insures more than 480,000 Georgians.

...The remaining two companies, Ambetter and Kaiser Permanente, have not changed their July rate proposals for 2019. Kaiser is still proposing a 14.7 percent increase for 2019, making up for 2018 when it raised prices far less than the other companies. Ambetter is raising prices 8.8 percent.

...The increases of 2018 over 2017 were brutal, prompted by turmoil from Washington. The Trump administration, newly elected partly on promises to dismantle Obamacare, set to work. The GOP effort failed to ultimately repeal the law, but it scored successes such as repealing one of its funding mechanisms and gutting the mandate that every American have health insurance. Those actions prompted insurers to say they would have to spike prices to deal with the business uncertainty.

  • Alliant Health Plans: minus 10 percent
  • Ambetter of Peach State: 8.8 percent
  • BCBS Healthcare of Georgia: minus 0.3 percent
  • Kaiser Foundation: 14.7 percent

The article actually has one error: Ambetter originally requested a 7.7% average increase, not 8.8%. However, it's possible that they submitted a revised filing since my original analysis in early July.

Otherwise, the reductions to both Anthem (BCBS) and especially to Alliant's request are striking--they knocked Anthem down from a 2.2% increase to a 0.3% decrease, and Alliant, which had originally requested a 5.7% hike, is instead being instructed to lower their 2019 premiums by 10%. That's...pretty steep. Huh (see below for the requested and approved numbers).

Overall, this means that instead of a 6.1% average rate hike, unsubsidized Georgians will only see their 2019 premiums increase 3.9%.

HOWEVER, once again, assuming a 12 percentage point hit due to the ACA's individual mandate being repealed and to #ShortAssPlans being opened wide, I estimate that 2019 premiums would have dropped by about 8% without #ACASabotage...that's nearly $880 per enrollee for the year.