Hawaii: *Approved* 2016 avg. rate hikes: 30.0% (down from 33.7%)

Hawaii was one of the first states I ran a weighted average rate increase for, way back in July. With only 2 insurance carriers offering individual market policies either on or off the ACA exchange, and a small membership to being with, it was pretty basic: 

For 2016, HMSA has proposed a 45.5 percent rate increase for their individual HMO plan, and nearly a 50 percent rate hike for their individual PPO plan (49.1 percent overall). The carrier justified their rate hikes based on claims costs, explaining that while virtually everyone in Hawaii was already insured, the uninsured pool – many of whom purchased new ACA-compliant plans – had significant medical needs.

Ouch. Yup, that's a pretty ugly requested increase, no way around it.

The following day, Kaiser proposed an 8.7 percent rate increase for their individual market policies.

If approved as is, this would have resulted in a 33.7% average rate increase, when weighted by market share between the two companies.

Well, the approved rates were just released, and the news is...well...mixed:

Hawaii’s largest insurers will increase individual rates by approximately 30 percent in 2016, according to the state insurance division.

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Insurance Division gave its approval for final 2016 Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual and small group health insurance rate increases Monday.

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii’s individual health insurance rate has been approved to increase by 34.4 percent.

The Hawaii Medical Service Association’s individual rate will increase by 27.3 percent.

Small group insurance rate increases vary from roughly 5 percent to 23 percent.

Some insurers decreased their rates, such as United Health Care, which was able to decrease its rate by 18.9 percent.

Yup. The good news (relatively speaking) is that HMSA had their rate increase chopped down from 44.5% to "only" 27.3%. While still very high, this was welcome news. Unfortunately, at the same time, Kaiser's relatively modest 8.7% request was actually increased substantially...to 34.4%.

Mush 'em together and sure enough, you get a weighted 30% average:

In essense, the two approved rate changes--one lower than expected, one higher--effectively cancelled each other out. The end result is a slightly lower average hike, which is still good news, although going from a 33.7% hike to "only" 30% probably won't impress too many Hawaiians.

On the other hand....

Hawaii insurance premiums are among the lowest in the nation, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, at an average of $289.64, before marketplace tax credits or subsidies.

Average monthly premiums in the most expensive states may run as high as $522.73 on the Mainland.

...so, as always, these things are relative.