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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Florida's Largest Insurer Raising Exchange Rates

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California officials said Thursday that more than 1.2 million consumers in the state-run insurance exchange can expect modest price increases of 4.2 percent on average next year. The Covered California marketplace is an “active purchaser” under the health law, which means it negotiated the rates with Anthem Blue Cross, Kaiser Permanente and other major insurers. The rates are also subject to review by California regulators.

About a dozen carriers will be competing in the individual health insurance market next year in Florida. Two have disclosed their rates. Humana is increasing prices an average of 14.1 percent for its HMO, while its preferred provider organizations (PPO) plan will increase 2.2 percent on average. Molina has set an 11.6 percent average rate decrease for all its plans.

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.”

Thu, Jul 31 2014

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