Filed Under:Markets, Employee Benefits

Maryland cuts some carriers' rate requests

Exchange plans may get less money than they'd hoped from consumers in Baltimore.
Exchange plans may get less money than they'd hoped from consumers in Baltimore.

The Maryland Insurance Administration is telling some carriers that want to sell coverage through its individual exchange program to make deep cuts in their premiums. 

Agency officials have summarized the cuts they have demanded in a report on approvals of premium rates for the individual “qualified health plans” to be sold through the state’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act exchange, the Maryland Health Connection.

In the bare-bones, “bronze level” of coverage, for example, the monthly premium rates originally requested for a 25-year-old nonsmoker living in Baltimore ranged from $136 to $350.

The rates approved in that category of coverage range from $124 to $237.

The rate reductions demanded range from 1.1 percent for a QHP to be sold by a unit of Kaiser Permanente to 32 percent for a QHP to be sold be a unit of  UnitedHealth Group Inc.

Agency officials asked for similar rate reductions at other levels of coverage and in other communities.

Maryland is setting up its own, state-based exchange. The PPACA requires the exchange to start selling coverage Oct. 1, with coverage sold starting to take effect Jan. 1.

The insurers selling QHPs through the exchanges are supposed to sell products in four standardized “metal levels” of coverage – bronze, silver, gold and platinum – along with catastrophic plans aimed mainly at younger consumers.

Carriers have had little to say about Maryland officials’ rate announcement.

Executives at UnitedHealth were not immediately available to comment. Executives at CareFirst, Maryland’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield carrier, said it believes its QHPs are competitively priced.

“Rate adjustments imposed by the (Maryland Insurance Administration) were modest, and we look forward to the launch of the exchange this fall,” company representatives said in a statement.

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