Health insurers seek big premium increases in RI for 2023

Health insurers are asking the state for large increase in health insurance premiums in 2023, citing increased visits and higher health care costs.

The proposed premium increases have to go through the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner, which makes the final decision on how big an increase, if any, it will allow insurers to levy on their plans.

Cory King, chief of staff at the health commissioner’s office, said the proposed increases are the biggest he’s seen in eight years working for the commission.

Insurance premiums for plans bought on the state’s individual marketHealthSource RI, are proposed to go up 9.6% for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island and 6.8% for Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island.

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For small businesses‘ plans, proposed increases are 11.7% for Blue Cross, 9.3% for Neighborhood Health Plan, between 10.8% and 12.3% for UnitedHealthcare and 10% to 9.2% for Tufts.

Proposed premium increases for individual market health insurance.

For the biggest group, larger employers, Blue Cross has proposed a 7% increase, UnitedHealthcare an 11.3% increase, Tufts a 10.4% increase, Aetna a 13.4% increase and Cigna a 8.5% increase.

What is driving insurers’ requests to increase premiums?

This year, requests for premium increases are being driven by pent-up and “catch-up” demand for health care, as procedures and surgeries were postponed or canceled during the pandemic.

Add in inflation, affecting the cost of supplies and prescription drugs, and health insurers say premiums need to go up to cover their costs.

Proposed premium increases for small group health insurance.

King said the commissioner’s office always finds reasonable ways to reduce insurers’ proposed premium increases.

“We can’t just make things up, because the insurers can appeal the decision we’ve made, whether we’ve complied with the laws,” King said.

Who is affected by the proposed rate increases?

Whatever final increases, if any, the commissioner approves will affect 172,746 people, or 16% of Rhode Island’s population, although some likely live in other states and work for Rhode Island companies.