END OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD (41 states)

Time: D H M S

Alaska: 26.5% rate DROP if CSRs *are* paid, 22% drop if they aren't

Back in August, I reported that thanks to their just-approved federal reinsurance program, Alaska (which has only a single individual market carrier with the most expensive premiums in the country) is looking at an impressive 22% average decrease in their indy market premiums next year. However, that was based on the assumption that CSR reimbursement payments would not be made (or at least not guaranteed).

Last week the Alaska Journal of Commerce reported that the final, approved 2018 rates have been released, and Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield will instead be lowering rates even further:

Alaskans buying health insurance on the individual market will see a decrease of 26.5 percent in rates next year, the sole insurer in the state announced Tuesday.

Alaskans had been paying some of the highest premiums in the nation.

Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield attributed the decrease to a significant reduction in the use of medical services and the state’s establishment of a program to address high claims separately, called reinsurance.

Premera’s announcement “shows that my team’s out-of-the box thinking in creating the Alaska Reinsurance Program — approved by the Legislature — has paid off,” Alaska Gov. Bill Walker said in an email statement.

“It also supports a need for Congress to fully examine the impacts of any changes to the Affordable Care Act, which enabled the creation of this program,” said Walker, an independent who favors a bipartisan approach to healthcare overhaul.

However, there's an important caveat:

...Premera said the current decrease assumes federal cost-sharing reductions will remain in place. They are included in the current bill being considered to replace President Barack Obama’s health care bill, but the Trump administration doesn’t support them, Wing-Heier said.

If those subsidies were to be stripped out, the decrease would be closer to 22 percent.

At the time, I spitballed that if CSRs were paid, Premera would drop their rates by perhaps 30% vs the 22% if they aren't paid; instead it's a 26.5% drop, but that's still good news.

The only problem with the article above is that it doesn't make it clear which route Premera will be taking. It sounds like they're assuming CSRs will be paid next year, although that seems unlikely to me at this point.