END OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD (42 states)

Time: D H M S

South Dakota: DakotaCare dropping off the exchange, requesting dramatic rate hikes

A few weeks ago, I crunched the (minimal) enrollment/rate numbers for South Dakota and came up with a fairly ugly weighted average rate hike of 27.4% (ouch). Being such a small state & population, there are only 5 insurance companies total offering individual policies either or off the exchange: Avera, Sanford, Welmark, Celtic and SD State Medical Holding, otherwise known as "DAKOTACARE" for some reason (and no, I refuse to capitalize the whole thing in the headline).

This evening Louise Norris informed me that DAKOTACARE has made 2 rather startling changes of plan: First, they're dropping off of the ACA exchange and will only be selling policies off-exchange...and instead of their previously-requested 18-20% rate hike, they've suddenly decided that they have to jack up rates an eyebrow-raising 63% next year.

This doesn't change their current enrollment...but it does mean that many of their 8,000 or so enrollees are basically being forced to move elsewhere. Even without such a crazy increase, moving off the exchange means that anyone currently receiving tax credits would have to give them up to stay on the same plan.

Why on earth they made this move so close to the start of Open Enrollment 2016 I don't know, but it sounds to me like they decided they want to dump their enrollees and this was the only way to do so.

Update: Louise clarified that they may have made the change earlier than I thought; she just found out about it today. Still, I did my earlier analysis on 9/05, so it had to be sometime within the past 3 weeks (unless the HCgov Rate Review site is slower to get updated than I thought).

In any event, the fact remains that current DAKOTACARE enrollees are indeed (assuming the state regulators approve the huge hike) looking at a significantly higher rate hike than before; the weighted average would go from 27.4% to 37.5%: