Oregon Insurers Seek Modest Hikes For Individual, Small-Group Health Plans
Modest health insurance premium price increases are on the horizon for next year in the Oregon individual and small-group markets, if insurers have their way.
In the individual market, six companies submitted rate change requests ranging from an average 0.1% decrease to an average 4.9% increase, for a weighted average increase of 1.8%, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services announced Wednesday.
In the small group market, 10 companies submitted rate change requests ranging from an average 3.3 percent decrease to an average 5.2 percent increase, for a weighted average of 1.5 percent, the state said.
The two markets, which are regulated by the department, constitute just a small part of the overall health insurance market in the state. But the individual and small-group rate requests – and the changes the department ultimately approves – give an indication of cost trends in Oregon’s health care industry.
About 179,000 Oregonians were covered by individual policies as of the end of 2020, and 176,000 by small-group policies, agency data reports show. Another 10,000 have bought policies during the current special enrollment period.
The great majority of Oregonians are covered by other types of insurance: Medicaid for low-income residents, Medicare for the elderly, and commercial plans with rates that are negotiated between insurers and large government and private-sector employers.
“2020 was an unusual year with limited in-person medical visits and procedures, telehealth expansion, and COVID testing and treatment, but we are encouraged by the stable rate change requests from our health insurers,” said Andrew Stolfi, Oregon’s insurance commissioner and director of the consumer agency.
“The initial data reveals that Oregon’s reinsurance program, a carrier expanding its coverage statewide, and a new carrier in the small group market are increasing competition and providing multiple health insurance options for people in every part of the state.” Stolfi said. Oregon’s reinsurance program helps insurers cover payouts incurred by very high cost patients. The program is funded by federal tax dollars and a premium levied on individual and small-group plans in Oregon.
Springfield-based PacificSource is expanding to offer individual plans statewide, giving people at least four options in every county. Connecticut-based Cigna will be a new carrier for the state, offering small group plans, the state said.
Over the next two months, the division will analyze the requested rates and decide by early August whether to approve or modify them.
The public comment period on the requests runs through June 29. The public can comment at oregonhealthrates.com and during the public rate hearings.
Under the requested rates in the group market, a silver plan for a 40-year-old Portland resident would have a premium ranging from $415 to $336, depending on the insurer. The lowest rate was requested by Cigna.
In the individual market, a plan for that same customer would have a premium ranging from $505 a month to $461 a month, depending on the insurer.
Plan purchasers who buy the plans through the Oregon health care marketplace system typically can get federal subsidies that cover a significant part of their premium.
You can reach Christian Wihtol at [email protected].