State’s two health insurers seek big rate hikes for individuals, small groups

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Health careDelaware Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart confirmed that the state’s only  carriers of individual and small group health insurance  in the health marketplace are seeking big rate hikes.

Highmark is asking for a 32.5 percent  increase in the individual market, while Aetna, Inc. requests 25 percent  and Aetna Life 23.9 percent. In the small group market, Highmark seeks a 2.7 percent increase, Aetna, Inc. asks for 23.2 percent , and Aetna Life requests 18.6 percent.

“These large rate increase requests are occurring in many states across the country, and I know they will be a burden for many Delawareans,” said Stewart. “The proposed increases are substantial and I’m going to do my best to reduce them. As is the case with every rate request I receive, I am instructing my actuaries to aggressively examine Highmark’s and Aetna’s supporting data for their requests.”

“I remind consumers that these are proposed rates, not final rates,” added Commissioner Stewart, who also announced that the Insurance Department will conduct public information sessions to receive comment on the proposed increases. The sessions will take place at the following locations in the three counties:

Monday, June 20th at 6:00 p.m. –  Carvel State Office Building Auditorium/Mezzanine Level 820 N. French Street Wilmington.

Tuesday, June 21st at 11:00 a.m.  Delaware Tech Owens Campus College Theater, Arts & Science Center 21179 College Drive
Georgetown.

Tuesday, June 21st at 6:30 p.m. – Delaware Tech Owens Campus College Theater, Arts & Science Center 21179 College Drive
Georgetown.

Representatives from Highmark and Aetna will be present at each session. Consumers and interested parties may also submit written comments to the Department at ratedivision@state.de.us until July 15. Comments may also be submitted, in writing, to:  Delaware Department of Insurance Attn: Health Insurance Rate Comments 841 Silver Lake Blvd.
Dover, DE 19904

Insurers   have  struggled with  costs of providing insurance to people who, in the past,  may have not qualified for insurance, due to pre-existing conditions.  Often, people went without insurance and  were sicker by the time they were able to obtain coverage.

Subsidies have been put into place that allow those with lower incomes to obtain insurance at a reduced cost.  Barring people, due to pre-existing conditions, is banned under the Affordable Care Act.

Delaware has also struggled with a lack of insurers who might have led to a more competitive market, at least in the early going.

Critics of the Affordable Health Care Act point to he big increases as evidence that the Affordable Health Care Act is not working.

The rate of increase in health care costs has slowed  down. However, Americans are still paying three times as much for coverage than they did in  2001.

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