Consumer Health First and 36 Partner Organizations Call on MIA to Reject CareFirst Premium Increases

This morning, CHF President, Leni Preston, and Secretary, Beth Sammis, are testifying before the Maryland Insurance Administration, asking Commissioner Redmer to reject the outrageous 2018 premium increases that CareFirst has proposed for the individual market.

CHF, along with 36 organizations, provided the MIA with its analysis of CareFirst's proposed rates. Its submitted rate request seeks an average 50.4 percent increase on its HMO plans and an average 58.8 percent increase on its PPO plans. Other insurance companies in the state's individual market also requested increases, but CareFirst's request was by far the highest.

"CareFirst is not living up to its obligations as a nonprofit health service plan to provide affordable, accessible insurance in the individual market," said Preston. "These rates would make insurance unaffordable for thousands of Marylanders, particularly those who do not qualify for a federal subsidy under the Affordable Care Act."

Sammis, who served for about 18 months as acting Insurance Commissioner in the O'Malley administration, analyzed the documents CareFirst submitted to the MIA and identified a number of concerns, including the fact that CareFirst's assumptions about increases in medical costs far exceeded those of other insurance carriers. CareFirst also asserted its morbidity rate will increase in 2018, but there is no evidence to suggest that this will happen.

"The Commissioner should insist that CareFirst alters its assumptions around medical trend and morbidity and ensure that the company lives up to its statutory obligation to ensure affordability and accessibility in the individual market," said Sammis.

Despite the current uncertainty caused by the healthcare debate at the federal level, Marylanders must be protected. Consumers should not have to bear the burden of the uncertainties that CareFirst may face due to actions, or inaction, by Congress and the Administration.

We, therefore, urge Commissioner Redmer to reject CareFirst's proposed premium increases.

Read the letter here, our press release here, and press coverage here: