Who’s up for a 58% health insurance premium rate hike?
Barely a month ago, I blogged about a nasty November surprise lurking in the electoral shadows — monstrous Obamacare premium rate hikes.
Huge losses and a supposedly high number of unexpected claims are being blamed for looming rate hikes in the Lone Star State.
The average rate hike for Texan consumers? 35%.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas requested a 58% rate hike for some 603,000 consumers and, “18% increase for 353,000 members who buy plans via the small group market that caters to businesses with fewer than 50 employees,” according to Investors.com.
BCBS of Texas individual market customers will likely have far less expensive options to choose, though not necessarily with the same network of providers. Molina Healthcare (MOH), which this year offers the two least-expensive silver plans in Houston, has requested an average 9.6% hike for its 134,000 exchange customers in the state. Molina said its financial experience “has met or exceeded expectations.”
Yet there’s an obvious risk that lower-priced insurers will dramatically underprice their coverage since the huge, costly customer base of BCBS of Texas may be looking for cheaper options. Even though higher subsidies may offset much of the premium hike for those who qualify, the subsidies are set based on the cost of the second-cheapest silver plan in each market. That means even subsidized BCBS customers will face huge premium hikes of 40% or more.
News is not much better for consumers who use Aetna, Humana, or Centene:
Meanwhile, Aetna (AET) is seeking a 15.2% rate hike for 84,000 Texas customers with ObamaCare plans. Centene (CNC) wants a 15.5% rate hike for 47,000 members of its Ambetter ObamaCare plans. Humana (HUM), as in Pennsylvania and Michigan, has requested a rate hike of more than 40%, but has few individual market members in Texas.
Of course this is all a feature, not a bug.