Health insurers seek lower premiums for 2019 individual market

- Minnesotans who buy health insurance on the individual market will likely see lower premiums in 2019. 

The state Commerce Department announced Friday health insurance companies are proposing decreased premium rates for the individual health insurance market for next year. The four largest health insurance carriers in the market, Medica, Blue Plus, Group Health and UCare, are seeking average decreases of seven to 12 percent. 

“Some enrollees in these plans are very expensive, so there’s money for them. So when you put the reinsurance money in there for them, you get stable rates,” said Dan McLaughlin, Director of the Center for Health and Medical Affairs at the University of St. Thomas. “I think they need to have another intervention, or they will go up again.”

Approximately four percent of Minnesotans purchase their health insurance on the individual market, rather than receiving coverage through their employer or a public program such as Medicare, Medicaid or MinnesotaCare, according to the Commerce Department. Most of those four percent are buying their covering through MNsure. 

In a statement, Governor Mark Dayton says while the lower rates might be good for some, there's still a way to go before the rates are affordable for everyone.

"Last year, over 349,000 people went without health insurance, because prices are still way too high," said Dayton in a statement. "Minnesota taxpayers should not have to keep subsidizing insurance companies to hold down health care costs. We need a marketplace solution."

Dayton then pointed to his proposal for the MinnesotaCare Buy-In Option and criticized Republicans for passing over his plan. 

The Commerce Department said the proposed rates are preliminary and the final rates will be released at a later date. 

The Minnesota Council of Health Plans released the following statement:

"While people in other states are seeing double-digit increases in health insurance
premiums for 2019, we aren’t.

"That’s because the state is helping Minnesotans who buy insurance on their own with reinsurance, which helps pay high medical bills. It's a practical approach to keep health
insurance premiums in check, despite rising medical bills. And other states are following our lead.

"While reinsurance doesn’t make care less expensive, it does a lot to keep premiums from rising for the 4 percent of Minnesotans who buy health insurance on their own. We need to renew the reinsurance program because we know it works. Unless the next legislature and governor renew it, our reinsurance program will end — and Minnesota will experience the same steep increases other states are seeing."

The Commerce Department will accept public comments on the proposed 2019 rates through Aug. 15. Comments can be submitted to healthinsurance.ratecomments@statemn.us. 

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