Arkansas health insurance companies selling Obamacare plans are asking for rate increases as high as 22 percent in 2018.
According to the Arkansas Insurance Department (AID), the average rate changes requested are a 7.8 percent increase for Blue Cross Blue Shield, 22 percent for QualChoice Inc., and 9.9 percent for Ambetter.
More than 300,000 Arkansans would be affected by the rate changes on the Obamacare marketplace in Arkansas.
Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Allen Kerr said:
This round of initial requests places Arkansas among the lowest in the country as many states are seeing companies ask for increases between 50% to 80%. While these requests remain subject to actuarial analysis and examination, they show that insurers are better serving Arkansas policyholders thanks to a deeper understanding of the state’s health insurance market.
Regionally, Tennessee health insurers have requested rate increases of 21 to 42 percent for 2018. Louisiana insurers requested rate increases from 12 to 36 percent. Rate requests for Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Mississippi have not been made public yet.
While Kerr is correct to say that these requests are relatively modest compared to other states, it’s not like the requested increases are chump change either.
Federal and state taxpayers subsidize all or most of the premium costs of enrollees in plans offered through Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion — thus the burden on taxpayers for this program will continue to increase if these rate increase requests are approved.
There are few other goods or services that regularly carry single- or double-digit price increases on a yearly basis. The fact that we see them in insurance markets suggests that something is terribly wrong there.
AID has until August 16 to grant approval of insurers’ rate requests.