Navarro: Final ACA individual rate increase set at 3 percent

Delaware Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro announced the 2019 Affordable Care Act (ACA) rates on Tuesday, Aug. 21. While Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware (Highmark BCBSD) proposed a rate increase of 5.7 percent for its 2019 individual Marketplace business, the Department of Insurance ultimately approved a 3 percent rate increase.

Officials noted that, although the initial proposed rate filing was significantly lower than in previous years, the department again contracted with one of the most experienced and qualified actuaries in the nation to perform an internal examination of the filing. The Delaware Department of Insurance gives all rate filings the same careful scrutiny regardless of the amount requested, they said.

“Even though I’m pleased that the department was able to approve a rate which is 47 percent less than the proposed rate,” Navarro said, “I recognize that this increase places an additional burden on thousands of families.

“Because our regulatory work doesn’t end with a rate filing approval, I also wanted to mention that Highmark will be rebating a total of $5,050,952 to their small-group market members as a result of their administrative fees exceeding the mandated MLR (medical loss ratio) rules. The rebates will be paid out by Sept. 30, 2018.”

The 2019 ACA rates are “silver-loaded,” meaning silver-plan premiums are the benchmark in calculating tax credits used to subsidize lower-income enrollees’ premiums. Therefore, silver-loading generally results in greater federal subsidies to help curb expenses.

Because of the increased federal subsidies received, silver-loading may result in reduced gold-plan premiums and free or very low-cost bronze plans for some members.

Because this year’s filing may result in lower costs for many consumers, the department urged consumers to examine their rates and reapply for coverage through the Marketplace.

Presently, 20,000 Delawareans have health insurance through the Affordable Care Act and will be affected by increasing rates.

Officials noted that the proposed rate increase will not apply to Delawareans on Medicare or Medicaid, or those with group or individual policies outside of the Marketplace.