2017 Rate Request Early Look: South Dakota (Grandfathered/Transitional)

It's been nearly 2 weeks since the last update to my 2017 Requested Rate Hike project. While I've locked down the requested increases for 35 states and the District of Columbia, the remaining 15 states seem to be pretty quiet about their 2017 rate filings. Today, however, I'm able to fill in at least half of the puzzle for one state: South Dakota.

To the best of my knowledge, there are only 6 carriers offering policies on the SD indy market: Avera, DakotaCare (off-exchange only), Sanford, SD State Medical, Celtic and Wellmark BCBS. It's worth noting that DakotaCare is in the process of being bought out by Avera, but I'm not sure whether they'll be submitting separate filings or not.

SD's total individual market was roughly 73,000 people in 2014, and has presumably grown since then to perhaps 90,000 today...including grandfathered and transitional enrollees.

Anyway, while I still haven't seen any filings submitted for 2017 ACA-compliant policies, Wellmark BCBS did recently submit their rate filing for grandfathered and transitional policies...and while I don't normally focus much on these, this filing is interesting because it gives some insight into SD's GF/TR market.

  • They're only asking for a mere 4.4% rate increase, which is dramatically lower than the typical ACA-compliant policy request this year.
  • That 4.4% applies to over 30,000 people still enrolled in GF/TR policies, or at least 1/3 of the total market. Obviously the picture is very different in SD than it is in Florida, where GF/TR policies had dropped to a mere 13% (combined) of total indy enrollees over a year ago (this has no doubt dropped well below 10% by now).

  • Also noteworthy: The GF/TR filing has already been approved for 2017 by the state regulators, as far as I can tell...

  • Finally, this is kind of interesting: The filing even shows how enrollment in non-compliant plans has dropped since the ACA went into effect: It hit a peak of 47,000 in 2012, then dropped 20% by the end of 2013, 11% at the end of 2014 and another 9% at the end of 2015 (these numbers don't match those in the letter, presumably because they're using an "average enrollment per month" figure).
  • Unfortunately, the filing doesn't break the 30K number out between grandfathered plans (which people can remain in indefinitely, as long as Wellmark continues to offer them) and transitional (which will finally be cut off at the end of 2017, unless there's yet another extension offered by the HHS Dept.).