Indiana’s ACA health insurance providers propose rate hikes

A man prepares to take medication at his home May 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana residents who purchase individual health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges could see premiums rise next year — or even double in some cases.

That’s according to proposed 2018 rates sought by the last two remaining providers in Indiana that offer coverage on the exchanges, which were created by former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. The proposed rates, which could change and have not yet been approved, were released Thursday by the Indiana Department of Insurance (IDOI).

Health insurers Anthem and MDwise both announced recently that they are withdrawing from the ACA’s Indiana marketplace next year. That leaves CareSource Indiana Inc. and Celtic Insurance Co. as the only companies that remain.

Some CareSource customers could see their rates drop by 9 percent if the change is approved. But others may see as much as a 12 percent increase, according to IDOI figures. The average monthly premium would be $423.

Celtic, a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Centene Corp., is asking for a minimum increase of 24 percent, with a maximum increase of 117 percent, state officials said. Their average premium would be $452.

A spokeswoman for CareSource declined to offer additional details on their proposed rates and what they may mean for consumers. Celtic officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Four Indiana counties — Grant, Posey, Warrick and Wayne — could have no exchange options next year without Anthem and MDwise, according to data compiled by The Associated Press and consulting firm Avalere. About 4,600 people bought exchange coverage in those counties this year, with some 175,000 statewide.

The state has until September to review and submit the rates to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Indiana Department of Insurance spokeswoman Jenifer Groth said.

Nationwide, prices for individual insurance could rise between 28 and 40 percent on average, according to a prediction by Oliver Wyman Actuarial Consulting.

Most of that expected increase reflects concerns over how President Donald Trump’s administration will manage the program, the consulting firm said. It may stop enforcing a mandate that most Americans buy coverage or it may halt cost-sharing payments that soften expenses for people with modest incomes. The mandate is seen as crucial to encouraging healthy people to enroll and balance the costs an insurer incurs from people who use their insurance.

The Indiana rate requests come as Senate Republicans unveiled their plan Thursday to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The bill, which was released with no analysis and no cost estimates, would cut taxes by nearly $1 trillion over the next decade, mostly for corporations and the richest families in America.

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