Just two weeks after enrollment closed for individuals in 2014 health plans sold through the Affordable Care Act's newly established state marketplace, Virginia insurance carriers were charged with filing their plans for 2015 with the State Corporation Commission.
As anticipated, the rates are expected to increase across the board. "It's still somewhat of a fluid process," said SCC spokesman Ken Schrad, citing the need for federal approval as well as any changes resulting from a public hearing in the summer.
Even with an extension to May 9, insurance companies still didn't have final numbers on current exchange enrollees by the deadline. Large numbers of the 216,000 who enrolled through the state marketplace did so in the last month with many having plans that became effective on May 1.
"It's a complicated process. We're trying to make predictions. We don't have all the numbers," said Scott Golden, spokesman for Anthem, which covers about 110,000 individuals statewide through the exchange and regular market. As reported, the Anthem HealthKeepers Inc. plan will raise premiums by an average of 8.5 percent.
At Optima Health, the insurance arm of Sentara Healthcare, spokesman Bobby Pearson reported its increases as "in line with other insurers," as cited in a Wall Street Journal article on Monday. The article gave a range of 3.3 percent to 14.9 percent for carriers in other parts of the state, with Anthem holding the middle ground.
Pearson cited the pent-up demand for health access by the formerly uninsured, the age of enrollees, and fees charged under the ACA as driving the increases.
Prior to 2014, people were written up based on their medical conditions, he said. The ACA doesn't allow the use of pre-existing conditions in setting rates, so actuaries determine the risks based on three factors: age, whether a person smokes, and geographical location. Virginia is divided into 12 metropolitan statistical areas, MSAs, which allows insurers to establish rates based on their network of providers in any particular region, said Pearson, noting Sentara's strong presence in Hampton Roads.
Anthem reported that it has made "modest adjustments" for 2015 and will offer several new plans. "The premium increase when compared to similar 2014 plans will vary among the (pricing) tiers and the plans offered within the tiers," according to Golden.
The State Corporation Commission will hold public hearings in July at which the state's insurance carriers will present their plans in detail.
Salasky can be reached by phone at 757-247-4784.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun