What to watch for when insurers announce premium rate requests this month

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform. He welcomes questions and suggestions and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Photo by Truthout.org via flickr.

Photo by Truthout.org via flickr.

Insurers are preparing to announce their premium rates for 2015. To learn how insurers set rates, Families USA and Consumers Union (the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports) will host a national conference call on Thursday at noon ET for health care journalists.

Premium rates will be one of the biggest stories of the year because so much depends on whether they will rise by double digits or stay at about 10 percent, as they have in recent years. If rates rise much above double digits, Republicans in congressional midterm races are likely to use that information against Democrats who support the Affordable Care Act. If rates are at 10 percent or below, Democrats may be able to fend off such criticism.

Last week, Kelly Kennedy reported in USA Today that health insurance premiums grew an average of 10 percent annually in the three years before the ACA was enacted. She cited a report (PDF) from The Commonwealth Fund, “Growth and Variability in Health Plan Premiums in the Individual Insurance Market Before the Affordable Care Act” that explained the recent history of insurance rate increases.

To date, insurers in only a handful of states (Arizona, Connecticut, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, and Washington state) have submitted rate proposals for 2015. These numbers don’t tell us much about national trends. We do know, however, that health insurance premiums are not likely to decline as Jay Hancock explained in an article for Kaiser Health News. The deadline for submitting rate requests on the marketplaces in each state is June 27.

During the conference call, experts will brief the media on the purpose of state rate review, how the process works, what factors affect the strength of a state’s review procedures and the roles that regulators and consumers play in rate review.

The speakers will be:

  • Joseph Ditre, Executive Director, Maine Consumers for Affordable Care
  • Jesse Ellis O’Brien, Health Care Advocate, OSPIRG, a consumer group in Oregon
  • Matthew Valeta, Health Policy Analyst, Colorado Consumer Health Initiative
  • Lynn Quincy, Associate Director of Health Reform Policy, Consumers Union
  • Cheryl Fish-Parcham, Private Insurance Program Director, Families USA

To participate, call the toll-free telephone number (888-359-3627) and use the confirmation code (3923367).

1 thought on “What to watch for when insurers announce premium rate requests this month

  1. Pingback: Covering premium rate increases for 2015? Check out these resources first | Association of Health Care Journalists

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