It's official: rate increases have been posted for "Obamacare" plans offered by three health insurers in Louisiana, with market leader Blue Cross and Blue Shield boosting rates as much as 41 percent on average for 2017, although some customers may see premiums skyrocket by 54.7 percent.
Vantage Health Plan is implementing a 31.5 percent increase and Humana an average rate increase of 29.5 percent, records from the state Department of Insurance show.
The rate increases don't mean all individual consumers will be paying more for coverage. Under the Affordable Care Act, consumers who make between 138 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for financial assistance. Those financial subsidies increase as health premiums go up.
Obamacare plans offered by Blue Cross cover 134,000 people in the state; Vantage Health, 42,000 people; and Humana, 30,991 people.
In Louisiana, 81 percent of consumers who buy coverage through the online federal health insurance marketplace can find plans with a premium of less than $75 per month, and 84 percent can find plans with premiums of less than $100, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Health insurance for the vast majority of Louisiana consumers who buy coverage through the f…
Enrollment for 2017 plans started Tuesday and ends Jan. 31.
In its filings, Blue Cross said the higher rates were needed for a number of reasons, including an expected increase in utilization and cost of services, to cover taxes and fees, and the end of a federal reinsurance program that helps protect insurers from costly claims. The reinsurance program made $7.8 billion in payments for Affordable Care Act plans sold in 2015.
In May, Blue Cross and subsidiary HMO Louisiana requested rate increases averaging in a range from 20.5 percent to 28.3 percent for Affordable Care Act plans sold through the federal marketplace. However, on June 30, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a report on programs designed to help offset insurers' costs for covering sicker and higher-cost consumers.
After the report was issued, the state Insurance Department allowed Blue Cross to revise its rate filings. The department approved rate increases averaging from 23.4 percent to 41.1 percent. The rates vary by health plan and customer. For example, the Blue Max plan has a minimum increase of 32.7 percent and a maximum increase of 54.7 percent.
Meanwhile, Vantage Health Plan requested a 30.8 percent increase in May. Vantage amended the increase to 31.5 percent because the initial filing didn't include the insurer's 2015 results.
Humana asked for and received an average rate increase of 29.5 percent.