New Mexico: Preliminary 2021 avg. #ACA premiums: +9.9% individual market, +6.6% sm. group

New Mexico is the latest state to post their preliminary 2021 rate change filings for both the individual and small group markets. There's several key things to note here:

  • Second, New Mexico has two new entrants to the individual market this year: Friday Health Plans of Colorado and "Western Sky" which appears to be an offshoot of Ambetter. Friday is also newly entering NM's small group market this year.
  • Third, there's almost zero information available about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on New Mexico's premiums because three of the seven carriers have redacted their actuarial memos, blacking out any discussion of it, and two more don't mention COVID-19 at all in theirs. That leaves the two new of which doesn't mention it, while the other states it as being 0.0% at this time. Sigh.
  • Fourth, and most notably: While most of the carriers are asking for nominal rate hikes or even a small drop in one case, check out New Mexico Health Connections: They're seeking a whopping 31.8% average rate increase, which is pretty jaw-dropping these days (a huge hike like that was typical in 2016-2018 but I haven't seen a 30%+ hike in the past couple of years). I have no idea what's causing this steep of an increase by NMHC since they redacted their memo, but it's worth noting that they only ended up raising premiums 1.9% last year...after initially asking for a 30% hike then as well. Huh.

There's a fifth bit of weirdness going on in NM as well regarding True Health. Last year I noted that...

In late 2017, New Mexico Health Connections – one of the few remaining health plan CO-OPs in the nation out of the original 24 – signed an expanded agreement with Evolent Health to assume NMHC’s small-group and large-group members and launch a new health plan, True Health New Mexico. The majority of our Senior Leadership Team (SLT) has been with NMHC for years before this change – some of them since the very beginning. All SLT members have been instrumental in guiding NMHC and Evolent Health toward and through this evolution to True Health New Mexico.

I'm not sure I understand exactly what's going on here...this makes it sound like NMHC simply offloaded their group plans to True, but now True will be offering individual market plans as well. NMHC is still around as well, so I'm not sure if they're offering plans under both names, or if True is starting to muscle in on NMHC's territory or what.

What's even odder is that True Health is only requesting a 4% rate hike vs. their "parent" company NMHC's 31.8%. Huh.

UPDATE: Thanks to Louise Norris for clearing up my confusion on this: Apparently "True Health NM" is not a subsidiary of NMHC, they're a direct competitor after all.

In any event, statewide, the weighted average increase being requested is 9.9% for the individual market and 6.6% for the small group market.