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Alaska: OUCH. Approved 2016 individual market rate hikes: 39% weighted avg.

I know I'm not supposed to repost entire news stories, but this one is literally 6 sentences, so click on some Alaska Dispatch News links to give them some love, willya?

JUNEAU — The state Division of Insurance has approved average rate increases for next year of nearly 40 percent for the two companies providing individual health insurance plans through the federally run online marketplace.

Division director Lori Wing-Heier says Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield and Moda Health cited the high cost of medical services as one of the factors in requesting rate increases.

She also said Alaska has a relatively small market and very small group of individuals with high-cost claims.

She said the average rate increase approved for Premera was 38.7 percent and 39.6 percent for Moda. She said that applies to individual plans on and off the online marketplace.

Wing-Heier says the cost of health care in Alaska has been a long-standing concern, with no clear answers for addressing it.

Given that these are the only 2 companies on the Alaska individual market, both hike amounts are virtually identical and the article specifies that these hikes are across both on- and off-exchange plans, there's no need to even bother with a spreadsheet to calculate the weighted average: It's roughly 39%.

Not much else to say here. The only saving grace for the national picture is that Alaska's individual market, exchange enrollment and total population are all so small proportionately that even a 39% hike at the state level only increases the national rate hike average by about 0.1%. That doesn't do the people of Alaska much good, however.

UPDATE: Whoops. Thanks to commenter farmbellpsu, who pointed out that there's a third insurance company (Celtic) operating off of the ACA exchange in Alaska which is "only" requesting a 14% increase. It turns out that the final approval deadline for off-exchange policies isn't until October, so the Celtic rate approval might not show up for another month or so.

Unfortunately, without knowing the relative market shares of the three companies (or at least of Celtic) relative to the total, it's impossible to know how this might impact the state-wide rate average. I do know that Premara BCBS has 8,484 enrollees who'd be impacted, but I don't know the enrollment tally for Moda or Celtic.

I also know that Alaska's total ACA-compliant individual market pool is likely to be somewhere around 25,000, based on the 2014 total (with most of any increase cancelled out by grandfathered/transitional plans).

Assuming Celtic's 14% request is approved, If it's a 33/33/33 split between the three companies, then the weighted average will be "only" around 30% or so.

However, that's pretty unlikely, given that Celtic only offers off-exchange (ie, full-price) policies. My guess is that they don't make up more than 10% of the total, which would only reduce the weighted average down to around 36.5%, not much of a reduction.

UPDATE x2: (sigh) OK, never mind. farmbellpsu has further noted that Celtic doesn't appear to have anyone enrolled in ACA-compliant policies this year anyway, making them a non-factor for purposes of 2016 average increases. Alaska is looking at a 39% avg. hike after all.