START OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD

Time: D H M S

UPDATE: Wyoming: Requested 2016 avg. rate hikes: 10.2%

Wyoming's total individual health insurance market in 2014 was just 27,000 people. While the total market likely increased somewhat this year, those gains are likely offset by perhaps 15% being either "grandfathered" or "transitional" policies.

Just over 18,000 were enrolled in effectuated exchange-based policies as of June 30 of this year, leaving perhaps 9,000 more enrolled in off-exchange plans.

According to Louise Norris of HealthInsurance.org, there's only two companies operating on the exchange in Wyoming this year: WINhealth Partners and BCBS of WY. WINhealth is asking for a 13.37% average rate hike; Blue Cross is asking for an uknown increase...except that it's under 10%.

I tried looking up the relative market share of each via Wyoming's SERFF database, but it's confusing. Neither WINhealth nor BCBS are listed at all, while Celtic Insurance and Humana Insurance are listed...but it's still difficult to hunt down the key numbers (avg. requested increase and current enrollment).

As such, I'm gonna make two back of the envelope assumptions here for the time being:

  • First, that WINhealth and BCBS effectively hold 100% of the ACA-compliant individual market in Wyoming.
  • Second, that the market is split evenly between the two.
  • Third, that BCBS has requested an average 7% rate hike.

I have no proof of any of the three assumptions, but it's the best I have to go on for the moment. If I'm way off...well, Wyoming's population is tiny enough that it won't impact the national average much anyway:

  • 50% x 13.37% = 6.685%
  • 50% x 7.0% = 3.5%
  • Total: 10.2%

UPDATE: Louise Norris has received additional clarification from the Wyoming Dept. of Insurance and has updated her entry accordingly:

Within the Wyoming exchange, here’s market share data and proposed rate changes:

73 percent of the exchange enrollees have WINhealth, which has proposed a 13.37 percent average rate increase
27 percent of the exchange enrollees have Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming, which is requesting a rate increase of less than ten percent.

If we assume BCBS files a 9.9 percent rate increase, the weighted average rate hike in the exchange would be 12.43 percent.  That’s a worst-case scenario – BCBS could file a rate change significantly lower than 9.9 percent.

...WINhealth and BCBS of Wyoming also sell plans outside the exchange, along with Celtic and Altius (only available in two counties).  But WINhealth and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming account for virtually the entire ACA-compliant individual market in Wyoming.  According to the Wyoming Department of Insurance, 94 percent of the off-exchange market is held by BCBS of Wyoming, and 6 percent is held by WINhealth.

For the entire ACA-compliant individual market in Wyoming (including on and off-exchange), the market share breakdown is 53 percent Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming, and 47 percent WINHealth.  Again looking at worst-case scenarios, if BCBS files an average rate hike of 9.9 percent, the weighted average rate increase in the ACA-compliant individual market in Wyoming would be 11.5 percent.

OK, so the actual breakout is:

  • WINhealth: 47% x 13.37% = 0.062839
  • BCBSWY: 53% x (let's assume) 7% = 0.0371
  • Total: 0.099939 = 10.0%

Well whaddya know! I'm pretty much dead-on target.