As if the House passage of the deeply flawed and irresponsible AHCA yesterday weren't enough, the Maryland Insurance Administration released the 2018 proposed premium rates for Maryland's insurance carriers, and they produced some sticker shock, to say the least.
Maryland's largest carrier, CareFirst, requested an average 50.4% increase on its HMO plans in Maryland and a 58.8% increase on average on its PPO plans.
Other carriers also requested large increases, although smaller than CareFirst's. Cigna Health and Life Insurance Co. requested an average 37.36% increase, while Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States asked for an average 18.08% increase.
Evergreen Health, which was absent from the individual marketplace last year because it was waiting for approval to convert to a for-profit insurer, is seeking an average 27.8% increase in its rates.
Consumer Health First President, Leni Preston, was quoted in an article in today's Baltimore Sun:
"The company [CareFirst] set prices too low in the beginning and they should have realized there was going to be a rush of sick people trying to get care," said Leni Preston, president of the Maryland advocacy group Consumer Health First.
"These just seem uncomfortably high and out of sync with what one sees with the rest of the market," Preston said. "I'm almost speechless, really."
Carriers received large increases last year, saying it was a one-time market adjustment to reflect the fact that fewer healthier people were enrolling in the plans than anticipated. However, it may be creating a downward spiral as healthier individuals balk at the increasing premiums, leaving even fewer healthy people in the pool.
So far, no carrier has indicated that they are considering leaving the market, but they are wary of continued losses.
These are initial rate requests. Historically, the MIA's independent analysis has resulted in adjustments to the rates before approval.