Today, Governor Hogan held a press conference in Annapolis to announce the new rates approved by the Maryland Insurance Administration for the 2019 Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. As we reported earlier this week, the rates for 2019 health insurance plans came with a big surprise: both Kaiser Permanente and Care First LOWERED their requests thanks to a bipartisan effort to establish a state reinsurance program.
The approved rates from carriers for the individual market are:
There is no doubt that this is great news for consumers, particularly the almost 200,000 who buy their own insurance. And, this would not have happened without the hard work of elected officials, policy makers, consumer advocates and other stakeholders who were successful in putting a reinsurance program in place.
Consumers: Shop Carefully
This year, more than ever, consumers will need assistance when they re-enroll or shop for new plans. They will need to carefully weigh the impact of rising deductibles, cost-sharing, and other aspects based upon their family's income and health needs. Those who do not get any financial assistance may find prices cheaper by buying off-exchange products. Fortunately, assistance is available through Maryland Health Connection and we encourage all consumers to go there for help.
Raising Your Voice Makes a Difference
In July, Consumer Health First submitted comments, with multiple organizations and individuals, on the original rate filings and then on the 1332 reinsurance program. We know our voice made a difference and today the National Health Law Programissued a report - Public Comments Can Blunt Attacks on the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid - that confirms that. Today, even as we celebrate these low rates, we are moving forward with comments on plan certification standards and regulations for the reinsurance program. Then, there is all the work to be done to address the fact that the reinsurance program is a stop-gap measure with funding that will run out by 2021. By then we must have in place meaningful programs, such as an individual mandate and a public option, to keep health insurance affordable for all Marylanders. That is the least we can do to be truly effective. Please don't hesitate to contact us to raise issues that are of concern to you.