Vermont: APPROVED avg. 2021 #ACA premiums: +3.5%

Way back in May (a lifetime ago), Vermont was among the first states to publicly post their preliminary 2021 rate filings for their combined individual & small group market. At the time, the carriers were requesting an average 6.8% rate increase, and noted that they had no clue how much to tack on to cover themselves for the COVID-19 factor...or to even reduce rates because of it.

This week, the Vermont insurance regulatory board issued their final decisions about both BCBS of Vermont and MVP Health Plan, and cut down on each of their requested increases by several points (h/t Louise Norris for the links):

On May 8, 2020, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont (BCBSVT or “the company”) proposed an average annual increase of 6.3% to the premiums it will charge individuals, families, and small employers for major medical health insurance coverage beginning January 1, 2021. During our review of the filing, BCBSVT agreed to make several changes recommended by Lewis & Ellis (L&E), our contract actuaries. These changes, together with minor plan design changes the company was required to make, reduced the proposed average premium increase from 6.3% to 5.5%. Following the submission of Vermont community hospitals’ fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget proposals to the Board on or about July 31, 2020, BCBSVT raised its proposed average increase from 5.5% to 6.7%.

Based on a review of the record, including the testimony and evidence presented at a hearing held on July 20, 2020, and guided by our commitment to approve the most affordable rates possible given the other criteria we have to consider, we modify the rate downward and then approve the filing. As modified, the filing will result in an average premium increase of approximately 4.2%.

On May 8, 2020, MVP Health Plan, Inc. (MVP), one of the two companies offering qualified health plans in Vermont, proposed an average annual rate increase of 7.3% over 2020 individual and small group rates, with plan-level increases ranging from 0.5% to 9.5%. Following a review by Lewis & Ellis (L&E), the Green Mountain Care Board’s (GMCB or Board) contract actuaries, MVP reduced its proposed rate from 7.3% to 6.1%. Following the submission of Vermont community hospitals’ fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget proposals to the Board on July 31, 2020, MVP raised its proposed average increase from 6.1% to 6.4%.

Based on our review of the record, the testimony and evidence presented at hearing on July 21, 2020, and guided by our statutory directives and commitment to approve the most affordable rates possible without threatening the company’s financial stability—thus enabling it to continue to offer health insurance in Vermont’s individual and small group market—we modify the rates downward from 6.4% as explained below, and then approve the filing for an annual average rate increase of approximately 2.7%.

As shown below, the approved weighted average increase across both carriers comes to 3.5% for both the individual and small group markets.