Idaho Health Insurers Want Big Rate Increases For Individual Plans

Jun 13, 2016

If you buy your own health insurance rather than getting it from an employer, you’ll probably pay more for it next year, maybe a lot more. Health insurance carriers have told the Idaho Department of Insurance what changes they want to make to plans next year and the department has posted those proposed changes on its website. Six insurers want to make substantial rate increases that average 27 percent.

The proposed increases vary widely between companies, plans and different parts of the state. On the high end, for example, a 40-year-old in the Boise area with a bare-bones Blue Cross of Idaho plan now called ‘Covered Connect Southwest’ might see the rate more than double to $458. The new rates also come with plan name changes. In that example it becomes ‘Southwest Silver 4000.’

The Department of Insurance is taking public comments on the proposed changes for the next couple of months, though it may not be able to do anything about them. A department press release quotes director Dean Cameron saying he’s very concerned about the affordability of health insurance but follows that with a bit of a disclaimer.

“Under state law the Department does not have the authority to disapprove or establish insurance rates, but it can deem a rate increase unreasonable,” the press release reads.

But the release suggests that at least some of these changes might meet the technical criteria to be considered unreasonable. It quotes Cameron again.

“We recognize that all carriers have lost significant amounts in the individual market,” Cameron says. “However, rate increases to make up for past years’ losses are not allowed. We will aggressively challenge these proposed increases in the individual market and continue to fight against abusive practices which contribute to these losses and ultimately to rate increases.”

Find Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam

Copyright 2016 Boise State Public Radio