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Premiums for health care on First State's ACA marketplace going up

Those getting healthcare through Delaware’s Affordable Care Act marketplace exchange will see higher premiums in 2016.

State Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart says her recommended rates for the coming year were approved earlier this month by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services - and they include double digit increases for individual coverage.

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware rates will go up 22.4 percent - 3 percent less than Highmark’s June request and 11 percent less than its revised August request.  Highmark was also granted a 12.7 percent rate hike in small group market.

The state’s other marketplace plan provider, Aetna Life Insurance Company,  was granted a premium increase of 16 percent on the individual market and its requested 6.1 percent decrease in the small group market.

The Insurance Commissioner’s office says Delaware is not alone in facing major rate hikes, noting Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in other states have seen significant increases – including rate hikes over 30 percent in Oklahoma, Tennessee and Minnesota. 

“My actuaries took a hard look at Highmark’s submitted rate request, and we were able to reduce it by 3.0%,” said Insurance Commissioner Stewart in a statement. “But Blue Cross franchisees across the country are making requests for increases of 25% or more, claiming the Affordable Care Act has unleashed pent-up demand by persons who have not seen a doctor for years.  Regulators have been approving significant rate increases throughout the country.”

Stewart says her office is working to find ways to lower rates in years to come.

“I’m continuing to meet with other insurance companies to persuade them to join Delaware’s Health Insurance Marketplace and increase competition. Insurers have been discouraged by our state’s high health care costs,” said Stewart, who's office cited a 2013 Wall Street Journal report on health care spending nationwide that ranked Delaware third-highest in prescription drug costs, fourth in the cost of physician and clinical services, and ninth in the cost of hospital care.

Tom Byrne has been a fixture covering news in Delaware for three decades. He joined Delaware Public Media in 2010 as our first news director and has guided the news team ever since. When he's not covering the news, he can be found reading history or pursuing his love of all things athletic.
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