2017 Rate Request Early Look: Minnesota

Well, I've managed to put together estimates (some very rough, some pretty specific) of the weighted average requested ACA-compliant individual market rate hikes for 49 out of 50 states, along with the District of Columbia. This leaves just one state left: Minnesota. For whatever reason, I've been informed that Minnesota's requested rate filings won't be available to the public until September 1st, which is too late for my purposes...because by that point, many of the other states will have started releasing their approved rates for next year (in fact 3 of them--Oregon, New York and Mississippi--have already done so). Minnesota's approved rates will be posted on October 1st. It's always been my intent to lock down the requested rates for every state before the approved numbers are posted in order to run a comparison between what was asked for and what the final approved rate changes are.

The only real estimate I have until Sept. 1st, then, is this quote from Christopher Snowbeck's StarTribune article on June 23:

More than two years after major changes under the federal health law, Minnesota’s health insurance market for people who buy coverage on their own continues to wobble. Proposed rate increases for 2017 won’t become public until August, but health insurers and agents already are signaling there could be significant price jumps.

...Federal subsidies that have covered a portion of health plan losses under the Affordable Care Act will disappear next year. That change alone could add another 5 percent to 7 percent in premium costs, said Schowalter, who suggested that rising health costs could add yet another 7 percent.

...“I am certainly trying to set expectations,” said Heidi Mathson, president of the Minnesota Association of Health Underwriters, a trade group for insurance agents. “I really think we’re at 20 to 30 percent rate increases next year.”

OK, so Schowalter (from the MN Council of Health Plans) suggests 12-14% increases in Minnesota, while Mathson suggests 20-30%.

If you split the difference, you get a range of 16-22%, with a midline of 19%. Of course, that's what these two industry representatives expect the approved rates will be; presumably the requested hikes will be somewhat higher...perhaps around, say, 23%...which just happens to also be the weighted national average for the other 49 states + DC.

In light of this, and in the absence of any hard data from the carriers and/or MN Commerce Dept., I'm temporily plugging in 23% for Minnesota's requested average...but will be certain to revisit this as soon as the actual filings are posted in early September.

One other important thing to note for Minnesota: Blue Cross Blue Shield is dropping their PPO offerings in the state (around 103,000 people, or 1/3 of the total individual market), though they're keeping their HMOs (13,000 enrollees) under the BluePlus branding.