Small Business, Individual Health Insurance Rates Will Go Up in 2020

Premiums for health insurance will rise an average of 7.1 percent for small businesses and 1.5 percent for individuals next year in Oregon.

Those hikes stem from the final health insurance rates approved by the Division of Financial Regulation for 2020. Regulators trimmed some requests but overall rates are going up, just not as much as some insurers had requested.

Based on enrollment-weighted averages, the nine insurers offering small group plans had requested a rise of  8.7 percent in rates next year. In the individual market, the seven insurers offering those plans had requested a rise of 3.3 percent.

The state Division of Financial Regulation cut the requested rates of four insurers offering small group plans and kept the rest unchanged. The state also sliced the requested rates for four insurers offering individual plans, kept three unchanged and increased the rates of one.

“Our collaborative rate review process has been key to building a stable health insurance market,” said Insurance Commissioner Andrew Stolfi. 

Despite the state trimming, some rates will still take a big jump.

The average rate for an individual Health Net plan will rise 8.9 percent in 2020. That will boost a Health Net silver plan for a 40-year-old Portland resident to a premium of $530 a month. That’s the highest premium increase and the highest average rate increase among the seven insurers that offer individual market-rate plans.

In the small group market, the highest average increases were 11.7 percent for both United HealthCare Inc. and United HealthCare of Oregon, resulting in a premium of $375 a month for a silver plan for a 40-year-old Portland resident. United HealthCare is a Minnesota-based for-profit.

Among plans for individuals, there was one decrease in the average rates, a drop of 3.2 percent for Moda, a Portland-based for-profit. Moda had requested the cut.

Among small group plans, there was one drop in the average rates, a cut of 2.3 percent for Health Net. Health Net had asked for a 0.3 percent rate cut. Health Net is part of St. Louis, Mo.-based Centene Corp., a for-profit company.

The number of Oregonians who buy individual or small-group policies in the marketplace is not large: About 185,000 people are covered by individual policies and 174,000 by small-group policies. That compares with the roughly 600,000 elderly who are on federal Medicare, the nearly 1 million people on the Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid) and the roughly 1.8 million public and private-sector employees who receive or pay for insurance through work.

Still, the individual and small-group rates regulated by the state give a sense of the pressures and trends at work in the health insurance marketplace. Health insurance rates continue to rise as an aging population needs ever more care.

Many people who buy market-rate health insurance are eligible to receive federal tax credits under the Affordable Care Act to help cover their costs. The tax credit amounts are based on a person’s income. 

You can reach Christian Wihtol at [email protected].

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