Several states have announced lower ACA premiums for 2019, despite the national trend brought on by several markets with regulatory changes. While early proposals from a number of states, including Virginia, Maryland, and Oregon, indicated that premiums were likely to rise in this upcoming plan year, other states such as Tennessee, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey expect little upward movement in ACA premiums. Lower or neutral premiums are due to increased competition and regulatory efforts to control the market stability, offering a blueprint for other states to follow suit.
Tennessee to see double-digit decreases on ACA Premiums
Premiums requests for the 2019 plan year in Tennessee included two players planning to cut prices by more than 10%, said the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI). The two players, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee & Cigna, requested a decrease of 14.8% and 12.9%, respectively, for ACA premiums. The state believes the entry of two new players into the ACA market helped drive down premiums for the upcoming OEP.
Two carriers are entering the markets for the first time in 2019, and another is expanding its coverage area, resulting in more options for more individuals and families. Tennesseans will see the competition that currently does not exist in most of the state, including in and around Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Memphis. Additionally, for the first time in the ACA marketplace era, the TDCI approved premium rate decreases from two longtime market participants.
New Hampshire sees new decreases
ACA premiums in New Hampshire are expected to decrease by an average of 6.75% in 2019. Though plan premium rates will not be finalized until November 1, 2018, Insurance Commissioner Jon Elias says, “a modest decrease in premium rates for New Hampshire residents is a move in the right direction.” The commissioner says they are continuing to work with insurance companies and pursue other efforts to improve market stability.
Governor Chris Sununu also praised the state’s efforts to contain prices for consumers. “New Hampshire providers are anticipating a decrease in the cost of premiums. This is a stark contrast to last year’s premium increase of over 50% and is due to our commitment to working with the industry to drive down premiums and make necessary changes to deliver real savings for the people of our state.”
Pennsylvania establishes lower ACA premium increases
The Pennsylvania Department of Insurance lowered individual premium increases from 4.9% to 0.7% after reviewing 2018 health plan costs. The department did not grant payers their initial requests after it calculated copayment and coinsurance costs for consumers. However, payers in the state also revised their premium rate requests after the state provided input during the rate review process. Payers sponsoring small group ACA health plans only requested premium increases of 2.4%.
Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman said new competition in the state’s ACA health plan market also helped to prevent premiums from increasing significantly for 2019. “The rate filings indicate that Pennsylvania has a healthy and competitive health insurance market and insurers remain committed to providing ACA coverage options to a significant number of consumers,” Altman said. “Increased competition encourages lower costs, which helps increase affordability for consumers.”
More players have entered the Pennsylvania market in recent months. In 2017, twenty counties in the state only had one insurance carrier. In 2018, that number decreased to just 8 counties without additional insurance options. Four out of the state’s five individual health plan payers extended insurance offerings into new counties between 2017 and 2018.
For more information on premium decreases and new players entering the ACA marketplace, please contact our ACA Experts. Give us a call at 800-962-4693 now to learn more!