Major Michigan insurance company announces premium hikes

Posted at 11:04 PM, Jun 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-14 23:04:25-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A major insurance provider in Michigan announced a significant rate hike for plans offered next year.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan announced it’s looking to increase its individual plan rates by a statewide average of 26.9% and an average of 13.8% for Blue Care Network HMO plans.

However, if a discount for lower-income people is eliminated – the cost-sharing reduction – then those numbers jump to 31.7% and 26.9%, respectively.

Rick Notter, director of individual marketing and distribution at BCBS of Michigan, says some of the uncertainty in Washington surrounding health care reform is a reason for the insurance hikes, particularly if the cost-sharing reduction will be around past this year. That’s a decision that’s currently making its way through the Senate, as they work on a health care reform bill.

“It effects everyone,” Notter says. “This is affecting all carriers, not just Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. If you look at the filings, you’ll find everyone has significant rate increases that they’re filing, and all the other carriers are also filing higher rates assuming cost-sharing reductions will not be there.”

Other Michigan insurance providers filings can be found online.

There are 60,000 enrollees on the BCBS PPO plan, and about 116,000 customers on the Blue Network HMO plan.

Notter also says the insurance rates are increasing for a number of other reasons:

  • About 20% of BCBS members will buy a plan, use the services, and then drop the plan. Those costs then have to be shared across the insurance pool.
  • Younger millennials are staying out of the market right now, which brings costs up because the more people in the pool helps spread the risk among everyone being covered.
  • Increasingly expensive drug prices, especially around specialty drugs. On average, specialty drugs cost $54,000, so while only 5% of customers use specialty drugs, they account for about 50% of Blue Cross pharmacy costs.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan says they’re committed to staying in the Michigan market, saying they’re the only PPO plan in the state and the only carrier who provides coverage in all 83 counties.

The 2018 open enrollment period goes from November 1 to December 15.