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Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Florida's Largest Insurer Raising Exchange Rates

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Several factors related to the health law are driving up rates for next year, Geraghty said, including a paucity of younger and healthy enrollees and a greater-than-expected surge of people seeking expensive health services. The law prohibits insurers from rejecting people with health problems or charging them higher premiums. That meant that many unhealthy people who had not been able to get coverage before were able to obtain policies in 2014.

Insurers’ premiums vary by a consumer’s age, the plan they selected and where they live. The monthly premium is only one part of costs, which also include co-pays and deductibles.

Florida Blue monthly premiums this year for a 40-year-old living in Palm Beach County and buying a silver plan range from $303 to $404, according to data on healthcare.gov. That’s before subsidies, which bring down the cost for low and middle-income buyers, are included.

Geraghty said he’s unsure if the latest round of price increases will lead people to drop coverage. “It depends on how much value they place in what they are receiving,” he said.

Nearly 90 percent of Floridians who bought coverage on the exchange get a federal subsidy to lower their share of the premium.

“No one can claim in good conscience that a 10 percent rate increase or more would signal the advent of something new and unprecedented,” said Greg Mellowe, policy director of consumer group Florida CHAIN. “For years, this was standard practice in Florida.”

The Republican-dominated Florida legislature last year suspended the state’s power to review health insurers’ rates to make sure they were actuarially sound. It left that job to federal officials who run the online insurance exchange that Florida uses. The federal government, though, has no authority to force insurers to lower insurance rates.

Open enrollment to buy 2015 plans runs from Nov. 15 through Feb. 15.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Thu, Jul 31 2014

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