Ohio Should Expect More Costly Health Insurance as First Wave of Rate Increases Come In

The first wave of rate increases requests from health insurance providers in the state of Ohio paints a gloomy picture when it comes to pricing. Though the premium increases still require final approval from the Ohio Department of Insurance, consumers should still expect increases to come during the next open enrollment period.

Unlike last year that saw a much greater variety of rate changes with some insurers dropping prices while others raised, carriers are all interested in raising prices going into next year. One large driver for this behavior are the adjustments to the transitional reinsurance program. With 2016 being the final year for the program designed to help smooth the entry into the ACA marketplaces, companies are more conservatively pricing their plans. The program backstopped losses from extremely high cost enrollees by moderating the claims related losses. In this last year before rolling off completely, the reinsurance system will be less generous for the carriers exposing them to greater risk of loss from the highest cost enrollees.

In response the insureres are hiking rates to account for these added costs. Aetna attributes 6.2% of the premium increase to these changes while Aultcare is building in around a 4.2% impact.

CompanyLives CoveredAvg ChangeMax ChangeMin Change

Aetna

12,21213.2%20.4%-1.9%

Aultcare

2,8405.5%13.4%-5.8%

Assurant*

*37%**

Ambetter

15,8258.2%14.3%4.7%

Anthem

21,6904.06%27.6%-24.45%

Healthspan

~10,00017.5%**

Medical Mutual

37,67316.9%26.0%7.4%

Medical Health Insurance Corp

41,11014.5%25.6%5.9%

Summacare

4,8103.69%13.76%-16.73%

While the insurers and rate summaries focused on the overall percentage increases, the use of average obfuscates the actual potential impact to consumers. Rate reviews published by HHS only include companies with average increases of greater than 10%. As illustrated by the above table many companies with lower overall changes will still have plenty of policyholders that experience significant increases in premiums.

In the filings each company details the impact of the proposed changes, highlighting the range of possible premium changes going into 2016. I'm almost all cases the overall change will have little relevance to the individual consumer. Anthem who filed for a little more than a 4% increase in overall, will have consumers that could see rates change between a 24 percent reduction to an almost 28 percent increase.

Good News For Older Anthem Smokers

One major winner going into 2016 looks to be older smokers on an Anthem plan. The Affordable Care Act permits insurance companies from applying a premium surcharge if a consumer uses tobacco. Anthem has indicated in its rate request that it will be reducing the impact of the tobacco surcharge by as much as 19 percent for smokers 50 and over. Tobacco users from ages 40 to 49 should also see some rate reductions ranging from 4 to 14 percent.

The company is also making some major changes to its pricing based on rating areas. Premium reductions of note are a 5.3 percent reduction in the Youngstown area and a 2.3 percent decrease in the Toledo counties. Unfortunately those consumers living in Lima and Canton will see a 4.8 percent and 3.2 percent increase respectively.

One other notable detail in the current crop of filings is from Assurant. The company which already boasts some of the most expensive plans in the state has filed for a new line of health insurance coverage. As a "new product" the filings do not detail a minimum or maximum impact to policyholders but is expected to cost on average 37 percent more than its 2015 predecessor. Assurant's existing silver plan option was priced at almost $360 dollars a month for a 27 year old residing in Adams County. This is in contrast to competing silver plans costing $220 to $280 for the same individual. With minimal market shre in Ohio as is, its hard to imagine the company's latest request is a real effort in acquiring market share.

Jonathan Wu

Jonathan is the CEO and Co-Founder of ValuePenguin. He reports on an array of topics, including the financial services industry, healthcare reform, and financial products for consumers. He previously worked in the financial services industry, including at such hedge funds as Avenue Capital Group.

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