Why is the Oregon Insurance Division asking health insurance providers to charge more than they think is necessary? The Oregonian reports that state regulators are doing it to keep the health insurance industry "stable".
"State Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali said that while her job is to make sure consumers are not overcharged, she also has to ensure rates cover insurers' costs. Otherwise, predatory pricing could over the long term drive some companies out of the market. She said that Oregon is likely to still enjoy better rates than other states thanks to one of the most competitive markets in the country.
"Pat Allen, director of the state Department of Consumer and Business Services, said 'We need to ensure a market that long term is stable, competitive and ensures pricing that is much closer to the cost of delivering health care.'"
So, why would Oregon health insurance regulators ask Kaiser and Providence to raise their proposed rates $26/month ($271 instead of $245/month) and $27/month ($284 instead of $257/month)respectively?
Maybe to help other insurers stay in business who have not made wise decisions?
Moda, Oregon's biggest insurer with 46% of the Oregon individual market is asking for a 25.6% monthly premium raise from $245/month to $307/month. It took a big loss in 2014. It expected claims and administrative costs to equal 99% of premium income. But, instead they equaled 165% of income. Ouch!
Then there is LifeWise Health Plan which serves a tenth of Oregon's individual health care insurance market asking for $318/month (a 38.5% premium increase) in 2016.
Where were the wise state regulators on higher premiums bringing stability when they approved Moda for second lowest premium $221/month in 2014 and LifeWise for lowest premium $222/month for 2015? If $222/month is fine this year, why shouldn't $233 or $245/month be fine in 2016?
Could it be that the state regulators like Laura Cali and Pat Allen are really trying to shield big players like Moda and LifeWise from their bad business decisions? Two years into ACA coverage they aren't doing well. They insure 56% of the Oregon individual market. Too big to fail so all the individual plan premium payers of the other providers have to cough up increases too?