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Health Plans Blame Market Instability for 2019 Premium Hikes

By Gregory A. Freeman  
   June 06, 2018

Insurers are starting to file their rate requests for next year and all signs point to a third year of double-digit increases.

Stop me if you've heard this one before. Health insurance premiums are going to rise again next year, even after a startling increase this year.

Health plan executives say they really have no choice. With their costs rising and political moves driving consumers away from their products, they have to charge more just to survive.

Sometimes a lot more. Some Maryland residents will be asked to pay almost double their current rates.

They probably won't pay it though, because Marylanders now have other options such as short term health plans.

And that's part of the problem, the insurers say.

Health Insurance Price Drivers

Higher healthcare premiums in 2019 will be  driven by several factors that payers say are beyond their control, including

  • Increases in medical trend and pharmacy costs
  • The elimination of the individual mandate penalty
  • The impact of new regulations that expand the availability of association plans and short-term plans

The only saving grace, they say, is the one-year moratorium on the health insurance tax, which could counter some of the factors driving the increases, but only a little, not nearly enough to make a dent in the overall increases.

CBO Eyes 15% Average Premium  Increase

The  health insurers' explanation for why they're raising premiums so much in 2019 is outlined in a recent report from America's Health Insurance Plans, the trade association representing the country's largest health plans.  

Gregory A. Freeman is a contributing writer for HealthLeaders.

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