Minnesota’s biggest health plans in the market, where people are buying coverage, are looking for an increase in premiums for next year – albeit less dramatically than they were looking for in 2022.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce released tariff proposals Friday.
Three major carriers in the market are looking for average increases for 2023 between 2% and 6%. A fourth major insurer proposed a 2% reduction in premiums.
“I think these increases are moderate,” said Cynthia Cox, a researcher with the California-based Kaiser Family Foundation, which monitors the individual market.
Rate increases are slightly more acceptable than the 10% jumps sought by some carriers a year ago.
Cox added that premium trends can vary greatly across states.
“At the national level, I expect premiums to increase more than in recent years,” she said in an email. “Insurers are not as profitable as they have been in the last few years, and we can begin to see inflation in the rest of the economy shift to the health sector.”
In Minnesota, consumers can submit public comments on tariff proposals until July 18. Final numbers will be published on or before October 1.
Minnesota residents under the age of 65 who are self-employed or not covered by their employer are the main buyers of individual health insurance policies.
The market has been in the spotlight since 2014, when the federal Affordable Care Act brought big subsidies to many coverage buyers, as long as they buy through a government-run exchange like MNsure in Minnesota.
For 2023, carriers are looking for the following changes in the average tariff: UCare + 6.2%; Medica + 6%; HealthPartners + 2.1%; and HMO in Blue Cross and Minnesota Blue Shield -2.3%.
Last summer, Commerce’s 2022 tariff review process saw three of the world’s largest carriers cut average premium increases by one or two percentage points. For the fourth largest carrier on the market, the final approved rates were about four percentage points higher than originally proposed.
“The Ministry of Commerce does not ‘set’ health insurance rates,” the agency said in key materials for the 2023 proposals.
“Instead, he reviews the information provided by insurers to determine whether their proposed rates are justified. Prices must be justified both by the benefits consumers receive for their premiums and by the insurance company’s ability to pay the expected costs of medical claims based on premium income. “
Commerce says the tariff review process ensures that carriers provide coverage for existing conditions as well as free preventive care. The state also checks to make sure that health plans have an adequate network of health care providers.
The proposed rates are average. Individual market prices may vary depending on the age of the individual, tobacco use, family size and geography. In addition, Commerce says that changes in tariffs may vary depending on the specific plan the consumer buys and the date of renewal.
Last year, more than 159,000 people bought individual coverage on the market, Commerce said in a report this month. The largest operators in the market at the time were UCare (49,649), HealthPartners (47,648), HMO’s Blue Cross and Minnesota’s Blue Shield (32,759) and Medica (25,185).
PreferredOne and Quartz Health Plan, each of which covered less than 4,000 people in the market in 2021, want an average increase in rates of 18% and 22.2%, respectively.
As of May, 113,460 people had purchased individual insurance policies through MNsure, the health exchange said this month. At the time, about 45% of those enrolled were in UCare’s health plan.