VERMONT: Approved 2016 rate hikes: 5.5% individual, 5.7% small group (vs. 8.0-8.3% requested)

Vermont was one of the earliest states to report their requested rate hikes back in mid-May. Due to Vermont's small size (both in total population as well as insurance providers...there's only two of them even operating on the individual markets), as well as their unique law requiring that all individual policies be purchased through the ACA exchange, they were also one of the easiest to calculate.

In addition, as far as I can tell, in Vermont, both the individual and small group markets are considered part of the same rate pool, although the market share differences between the two still resulted in slightly different weighted averages: 7.8% for the individual market, 8.1% for the small group market. These were slightly revised to 8.0% and 8.3% just prior to the review/approval process.

Yesterday the state regulators announced the final approved rates for both BCBSVT and MVP...and lo and behold, they've shaved off several points in both the individual and small group markets:

Vermont health care regulators have approved rate increases for people covered by the state's online health benefit exchange known as Vermont Health Connect.

The rate increases approved Thursday by the Green Mountain Care Board were less than those sought by both Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont and MVP Health Plan.

The rate increase approved for Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which insures more than 65,000 Vermonters through the portal, was 5.9 percent - reduced from the insurer's 8.6 percent request. The increase authorized for MVP was 2.4 percent - less than its 3 percent request. MVP covers about 6,500 Vermonters through Health Connect.

The board says that depending on the plan, people who use Health Connect could see premium changes higher or lower than those announced Thursday.

The actual enrollment numbers according to the filings are 67,050 for Blue Cross and 6,419 for MVP, meaning the final weighted averages are slightly different, but in the end the approved averages come in at 5.5% for the individual market and 5.7% for small group.

Any increase is obviously not something to celebrate, but this is far lower than the pre-ACA average increase.