START OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD

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2018 Rate Hikes: Arizona (early look)

This isn't a full analysis, since I only have 2018 rate hike data for one of Arizona's carriers so far...on the other hand, AZ only has a couple of carriers on the individual market these days anyway. From AZCentral:

The Affordable Care Act insurer in 13 of Arizona's 15 counties plans to raise average rates across all plans a moderate 7.2 percent next year.

But Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona officials said the rate increases would be flat if President Donald Trump's administration did not plan to eliminate a key Affordable Care Act funding source.

7.2% isn't bad at all...of course, that comes after last years massive 57% average rate hike. Still, 0% would obviously be much better than 7%...

Trump suggested in a weekend tweet that " ... bailouts for insurance companies and bailouts for members of Congress will end very soon" unless Congress acts quickly on a new health bill.

Health-policy experts believe Trump is referring to an "Obamacare" funding source known as "cost-sharing reduction payments," which are used to offset insurance costs for low-income earners.

This is how low we've sunk in 2017: Health policy experts believe that's what he's referring to. We're reading tea leaves because the President is too stupid and incoherent to actually say what the hell he's referring to.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, which sells marketplace plans in all counties except Maricopa and Pima, has filed its proposed 2018 rates with the Arizona Department of Insurance. The rates assume the cost-sharing payments will be eliminated next year.

Blue Cross Blue Shield estimated that the average rate increase across all plans is 7.2 percent, said Jeff Stelnik, senior vice president of strategy, sales and marketing.

He said some plans will have no increase at all, while the bare-bones catastrophic plans that cover fewer than 1,000 Arizonans under the age of 30 year will increase 20 percent.

Rates for the "benchmark plan" — a community's second lowest-cost silver plan that helps determines tax-credit subsidies — will increase by 16 percent.

...If the federal government allows cost-sharing payments, "We're looking at something like a flat increase across all plans," he said.

Arizona's other marketplace insurer, Centene's Ambetter from Health Net, has not publicly discussed its 2018 rate filings. Ambetter is the only marketplace insurance plan in the state's two largest counties, Maricopa and Pima.

Hmmmm...last year, Blue Cross had about 73% of the Arizona individual market, while Health Net (aka Ambetter...aka Centene...for Chrissakes, pick one name and stick with it, guys...) held around 18% of the market. The rest was split among other carriers, all of whom have either dropped out entirely or are only available off-exchange. Unfortunately, I have no idea what the current market share breakout is, but assuming Blue Cross still holds 3/4 of the market, that 7% / 0% should be fairly representative of the indy market statewide.

I'll go ahead and tentatively plug those numbers into my 2018 Rate Hike project spreadsheet, although again, this is very much subject to change once Centene/Ambetter/Health Net chimes in, along with any off-exchange-only companies I'm missing.