COVID-19 may make health insurance more expensive for many people in Maryland – Baltimore Sun


People who buy their own health insurance in Maryland may have to pay more again next year, likely due to costs from the coronavirus pandemic.

The three carriers offering policies on the Maryland Health Exchange or directly to consumers under the Affordable Care Act have requested rate increases from state insurance regulators by an average of 11%.

“It is clear from our ongoing monitoring of industry experience that 2021 claims have been heavily influenced by COVID-19, and that the significant differences between where we were in 2021 and where we are likely to be in 2023 must be modeled and factored into rate movements,” Kathleen Birrane, state insurance commissioner, said in a statement.

The Maryland Insurance Administration will review applications and set rates in September for the insurance, also known as Obamacare.

More than 222,000 people purchased coverage on the Maryland Stock Exchange or through insurers this year, with nearly 80% subsidized to help pay premiums. Most are not insured by their employer.

Tens of thousands of Marylanders secured insurance during special enrollment times for those who lost insurance during the pandemic. Others have been added to the rolls of Medicaid, the federal state health program for low-income residents. Some are now at risk of being removed from Medicaid as officials resume checking whether participants remain qualified, which was put on hold during the pandemic health emergency.

State regulators say they will consider this when approving rates, along with the actual impact of the coronavirus on costs.

“Getting more detailed insights into how the COVID-19 claims experience influenced cost and trending patterns for 2023 will be the primary focus of our actuarial team,” Birrane said.

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the state’s largest carrier, requested an average rate increase of 11.2% in its popular HMO plan that covers more than 149,000 people. That would mean $30 more per month for a policyholder with a mid-priced silver plan, pushing it up to $353.

CareFirst requested a 25.9% price increase for its PPO plan which covers nearly 16,300 people.

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Kaiser Permenante asked an average of 7.2% for its HMO plan which covers nearly 64,900 people. This would increase the premium for a policyholder with a Silver plan from $14 to $275 per month.

United Healthcare is seeking an average increase of 8.7% for its HMO plan. The monthly cost for a policyholder with a silver plan would increase from $28 to $363.

Small business health insurance providers have also requested an average increase of 10%.

For the current year, state regulators ended up approving personal premium increases of about 2.1% on average for the nearly three dozen plans offered by the three exchanged insurance companies.

This followed several years of significant cost reductions thanks to a reinsurance program adopted by the General Assembly which helped to offset the bills of the insurers of the most expensive beneficiaries. He replaced a Republican-killed program in the US Congress.

The Maryland Insurance Administration plans to hold public hearings on the rate applications in July.

Insurers did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.


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