Hawaii: APPROVED 2019 #ACA rate hikes: 5.3% increase (but WOULD likely have DROPPED by 4.7% w/out #ACASabotage)

With the 2019 Open Enrollment Period quickly approaching, I'm spending a lot of time swapping out the requested carrier rate changes from earlier this summer with the approved rate changes from state regulators.

Hawaii only has two carriers participating in the ACA-compliant individual market: HMSA and Kaiser, which requested rate increases of 2.72% and 28.6% respectively back in August. With a roughly 57/42 market share split, this resulted in a weighted average rate increase of 13.8%, which would likely have been closer to 3.8% if the ACA's individual mandate penalty hadn't been repealed.

Today, however, Louise Norris gave me a heads up to this bulletin from Hawaii's Commerce Department, in which they state that state regulators have chopped those rate hikes down significantly for 2019:


HONOLULU – The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Insurance Division released final decisions for 2019 Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual plan health insurance rates.  These rates are expected to affect approximately 32,000 individuals currently purchasing ACA individual plans.

2019 ACA Individual Health Rate Filings

“We hope the 2019 final approved rates are a sign that premiums are starting to stabilize in the individual marketplace and this trend continues into 2020,” Insurance Commissioner Gordon Ito said. “The Division saved Hawaii residents in the individual marketplace over $20 million by determining further reductions to the insurers’ proposed rate increases were justified.”

The Insurance Division’s approval of rates was made pursuant to the statutory requirement that rates cannot be excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory. All submitted data regarding the rates are closely reviewed by rate and policy analysts and actuaries.

“With ACA open enrollment starting Nov. 1, healthcare plan decision making remains complex and consumers are encouraged to review and understand the ACA plans,” said Commissioner Ito. Advanced Premium Tax Credits can help to lower your monthly payment.

Wow...that's a dramatic drop, especially for Kaiser. Here's what that looks like in practice:

Hawaii's average 2019 premiums are now set to increase by just 5.3% instead of 13.8%, which is obviously good...but doesn't change the impact of the mandate being repealed, which means unsubsidized enrollees are still looking at having to pay roughly $750 more next year than they'd otherwise have to.