Insurance firms seek steep rate hikes for marketplace

 

DOVER — The Delaware Department of Insurance announced Thursday insurance companies have requested rate increases of at least 24 percent each for individual health care in the state’s online marketplace.

For a person in Delaware’s Health Insurance Marketplace for 2017, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware seeks an increase of 32.5 percent, Aetna Inc. requests a 25 percent hike and Aetna Life proposes a 23.9 percent jump.

In the small group market, Highmark seeks a 2.7 percent increase, while Aetna Inc. has asked for 23.2 percent more and Aetna Life requests a hike of 18.6 percent.

“These large rate increase requests are occurring in many states across the country, and I know they will be a burden for many Delawareans,” Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart said in a statement. “The proposed increases are substantial and I’m going to do my best to reduce them. As is the case with every rate request I receive, I am instructing my actuaries to aggressively examine Highmark’s and Aetna’s supporting data for their requests.”

Karen Weldin Stewart

Karen Weldin Stewart

By state law, insurers are prohibited from charging “excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory” rates. The department will hold three hearings to allow members of the public to provide input, and the rate requests and the insurers’ justifications will be posted at http://www.delawareinsurance.gov/departments/rates/ratefilings.shtml.

The first public session will take place June 20 at 6 in Wilmington, at the Carvel State Office Building’s auditorium. On June 21, two more informational hearings will be held. The first will be in Georgetown at 11 at Delaware Technical Community College Owens Campus in the theater. At 6:30, citizens can present comments in Dover at the Department of Insurance’s Sussex conference room.

Representatives from Highmark and Aetna will be present at each session. Consumers and interested parties may also submit written comments to the agency at ratedivision@state.de.us until July 15. Comments may also be submitted, in writing, to Delaware Department of Insurance, Attn: Health Insurance Rate Comments, 841 Silver Lake Blvd., Dover, DE 19904.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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