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Final Rates Confirm Washingtonians’ Insurance Is Getting Even More Expensive

By September 12, 2018No Comments

Rate Increase Due to Trump Administration and Washington Republicans’ Health Care Sabotage

Washington, D.C. – Today, Washington State announced final rates for 2019 individual-market health insurance plans, which indicate a 13.8 percent premium increase, in contrast to the average nationwide 4.3 percent decrease that Brookings Institution analysts predicted would occur absent GOP sabotage, on top of last year’s 19 percent rate hike due to Washington Republicans’ repeal-and-sabotage agenda. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, released the following statement in response:

“For the past year and a half, President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have engaged in a deliberate, aggressive campaign to undermine health care and families in Washington are once again forced to pay the price. Until we stop Republicans’ war on health care, insurance companies will continue to make huge profits and enjoy record tax breaks from Republicans while they charge working families more and more. Washington Republicans should start working on bipartisan solutions to make coverage more affordable, instead of helping their friends in the insurance industry make another buck on the backs of hardworking Washingtonians.”

From the Insurance Commissioner:

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler: We Continue To Face “Targeted Hits On The Affordable Care Act That Increase The Uncertainty.” “We’re doing what we can to hold down costs, but it’s a struggle. Insurers need stability and we’re still facing inaction at the federal level as well as targeted hits on the Affordable Care Act that increase the uncertainty.” [NCW Life, 9/12/18]

From the Insurance Companies:

Molina Healthcare: “An Adjustment Was Applied To The Experience Period To Reflect The Anticipated Change In Morbidity Of The Market-wide Risk Pool Due To The Repeal Of The Individual Mandate.” “An adjustment was applied to the experience period to reflect the anticipated change in morbidity of the market-wide risk pool due to the repeal of the individual mandate. The Washington Marketplace is expected to decrease in size and have a higher average morbidity compared to the experience period. Molina performed an analysis using its own experience data to assess the impact of a subset of the population dropping coverage. The impacted membership included a portion of members with low claims in the previous year, members with higher member premiums, and members who are younger. The market-wide risk pool changes together with higher average morbidity are expected to increase the fee-for-service portion of the experience period allowed claims by 9.7%.” [Office of the Washington State Insurance Commissioner, 6/4/18]

Kaiser: “The Rate Changes Shown Are Primarily Driven By The Claims Experience Of The Single Risk Pool, Medical Inflation, And Projected Changes In The Risk Profile Of The Membership Due To The Elimination Of The Individual Mandate.”  [Office of the Washington State Insurance Commissioner, 6/4/18]

From the Experts:

Brookings Analysis Estimates That Individual Market Premiums Would Decrease If Not For GOP Sabotage. Among its key findings:

  • Estimates That Average Premium Would Fall By 4.3 Percent In 2019 In Stable Policy Environment. “I estimate that the nationwide average per member per month premium in the individual market would fall by 4.3 percent in 2019 in a stable policy environment.” [Brookings Institution, 8/1/18]
  • Insurance Companies’ Revenues Will Far Exceed Their Costs In 2018. “I project that insurers’ revenues in the ACA-compliant individual market will far exceed their costs in 2018, generating a positive underwriting margin of 10.5 percent of premium revenue. This is up from a modest positive margin of 1.2 percent of premium revenue in 2017 and contrasts sharply with the substantial losses insurers incurred in the ACA-compliant market in 2014, 2015, and 2016. The estimated 2018 margin also far exceeds insurers’ margins in the pre-ACA individual market. ” [Brookings Institution, 8/1/18]
  • Absent Republican Sabotage, Average Premiums For ACA-Compliant Plans Would Likely Fall In 2019. “In this analysis, I define a stable policy environment as one in which the federal policies toward the individual market in effect for 2018 remain in effect for 3 2019. Notably, this scenario assumes that the individual mandate remains in effect for 2019, but also assumes that policies implemented prior to 2018, like the end of CSR payments, remain in effect as well. Under those circumstances, insurers’ costs would rise only moderately in 2019, primarily reflecting normal growth in medical costs.” [Brookings Institution, 8/1/18]