Oregonians who buy own health insurance face big hikes in 2017

New premium requests from insurers spell trouble for Oregonians

Oregonians who buy their own health insurance face a second straight year of hefty premium hikes that could boost coverage costs by nearly a third.

Insurers want to boost premiums by 15 percent to 32 percent next year, according to a summary of rate requests submitted recently to the Department of Consumer and Business Services.

The state’s two top insurers in the individual market, Providence Health Plan and Moda Health Plan, are both proposing 30 percent average rate hikes that, combined, would hit more than 160,000 people, or two-thirds of those who buy their own plans but are not on Medicare.

The rate requests would not affect people who are on Medicaid or who receive coverage through their employer.

The premium hikes don’t take into account tax credits available to those with qualifying incomes. Last year about 40 percent of Oregonians in the individual market used the health insurance exchange, HealthCare.gov, to receive credits that can be used to reduce monthly premiums.

State regulators will accept public comment and review the rates before issuing a final decision. But the trend is not a positive one for consumers. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care act requires most people have coverage or face a penalty in tax time.

“For the next two months, we will analyze the requested rates to ensure they adequately cover costs without being too high or too low,” said Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali. “Our open process allows Oregonians to see everything we do and provide comments on the filings that affect them.”

For now, the specifics are daunting. Providence has proposed boosting its rates by an average 29.6 percent, coming on top of a 13.8 percent overall hike last year. As of February, Providence led the individual market with more than 100,000 Oregonians enrolled. A 40-year-old on a Providence silver plan pays $273 a month now.

Moda, meanwhile, has requested a market-leading average rate hike of 32.3 percent, coming on top of an average 25 percent rate hike approved last year. Moda reported about 60,000 members in Oregon’s individual market, and a 40-year-old on a Moda silver plan pays $307 a month now.

Health Net Health Plan of Oregon is the only insurer located in the state not to propose raising its rates. The firm is being sold to an out-of-state for-profit insurer, Centene.

Other rate hikes proposed by insurers range from about 15 percent by PacifiSource and Atrio Health Plans to 32 percent by Oregon’s Health CO-OP. The latter company, along with Providence, offered what agents considered some of the more attractive plans in 2016, with a $274 premium for a 40-year-old on a silver plan.

Driving insurers’ rate hikes last year were massive losses due to unexpected claims costs.

According to the state, people can search www.oregonhealthrates.org to submit comments and review rates.

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