Individual health insurance rates decline for 2nd year in Minnesota

The price of health insurance plans on the individual market in Minnesota is coming down for the second year in a row.

Officials cite several reasons for the decline. They say there are fewer sick people seeking health care on the individual market, there is a lower cost per doctor visit, and the economy is doing better.

But perhaps most important is the reinsurance plan passed by the legislature last year. The fund reimburses health plan carriers for the losses on their most expensive claims, and that has perhaps reduced overall rates by as much as 20 percent for next year.

For people and families who don’t buy health coverage through their work place, the individual market rates for 2019 are going down.

“For 2019, the rate schedules for all five carriers are showing rate decreases,” said Jessica Looman, Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner.

Rates for the carrier Blue Plus are dropping by an average of nearly 28 percent. Group Health is down seven percent, Medica is down 12 percent, PreferredOne is down 11 percent and UCare is down 10 percent.

When looking at a benchmark, or silver plan for a 40-year-old individual living in either Hennepin, Ramsey or Dakota County, their monthly rate comes in at $300 - that’s a nearly $27 drop from this year.

In the Rochester area of Olmsted County, the new monthly rate for that same 40-year-old individual is $483 a month; it’s a drop of $113 from this year.

But the state health department warns that overall health care costs are still rising too fast for Minnesotans to keep up.

“In fact, analysis soon to be published by the health department indicates that healthcare spending is projected to nearly double again in the next decade,” said Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm.  

That’s all the more reasons why regulators warn the state can’t pull back from trying to lower the cost of health coverage.

“We do think it’s really important that the new governor and the legislature need to take a really hard look at how to continue to provide the state support necessary for a stable, individual market,” Looman said.  

The individual market in Minnesota is about 155,000 people, or just three percent of the people who are covered by health plans in the state.

But, the governor’s office says there’s a bigger number to worry about: more than a third of a million people in this state have no health insurance coverage because the price is too high to afford.