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Highmark seeks 2019 ACA premium hike


Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware is asking to raise rates for next year’s Affordable Care Act insurance plans.

It’s hoping to win approval for a 5.7 percent premium hike.

State Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro said he was happy to see Highmark’s proposal was nowhere near as high as a year ago.

Highmark sought a 33 percent increase in ACA marketplace premiums this time last year and the insurance commissioner approved a 25 percent hike.

Navarro says he would have liked to see the state’s sole ACA provider seek a rate decrease - noting it made a profit off the marketplace for the first time last year.

“But 5.7 percent is much much better than most of our surrounding states have fared," he said. "And considering the last three years we’ve seen new rates that they’re at least seeking to be in the mid 30s, it appears to be just the marketplace is starting to level off.”

Navarro said the fact that Highmark made a profit in 2017 shows the marketplaces are stabilizing despite the Trump administration’s efforts to sabotage the law.

“That’s ok, they’re allowed to make a profit," he said. "I mean they were hemorrhaging hundreds of millions of dollars over the last couple years because of critical payments that were part of the original architecture were withheld by the administration.”

But Navarro added that any increase could put health insurance out of reach for thousands of Delawareans. He said he’ll hire an independent auditor to review Highmark’s request.

In a statement, Highmark says its request reflects the overall rising cost of care.

A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for July 30th in Dover. About 20,000 Delawareans have coverage through the marketplace.

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