I interfered with the mental wellness of some LifeHealthPro.com readers Tuesday by publishing an article about an actuary who says it’s possible, based on what he’s seen in individual health rate filings, that typical 2017 premium increases might be in the range of the “high single digits to low double digits.”
To me, it seems as if that translates as “7 percent to 14 percent.”
Rate proposal filings are due in the HealthCare.gov states and many other states May 11. States have posted just a smattering of 201 form and rate filings on line, and going through each state’s filing portal takes a long time.
The actuary who sent me the “high single digits to low double digits” estimate, Dave Dillon, put in many, many disclaimers. But I wrote about his guesstimate because it’s the first one I’ve noticed that seems to be based on interactions with a large number of rate filings, as opposed to people’s personal politics, or solely on a general look at the individual health insurance rate picture.
Of course, on the one hand, it’s easy to imagine, based on how tough the big, publicly traded health insurers have been on agent and broker compensation, that typical rate increases will really be more in the 100 percent to 200 percent range than in the 7 percent to 14 percent range. Maybe what will hold the apparent magnitude of the increases down is that the issuers who would be asking for increases over 50 percent will withdraw their products from the market rather than face the bad publicity that might come with asking for 80 percent premium increases.
On the other hand, the 2015 individual health product menus looked a lot healthier than I expected, and health insurance actuaries seem busy. I don’t see floods of message board posts talking about how bored and under-employed health actuaries are. That might be a sign that a large number of actuaries are developing 2017 individual health rate filings.
The drafters of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) wanted to make individual people healthier and happier, keep doctors and hospitals around to treat patients, keep health care costs from bankrupting the United States and its states, and keep insurers from strangling PPACA. LifeHealthPro.com wants insurance companies, agents and brokers to be happy, but the drafters of PPACA did not necessarily think of keeping insurers and producers alive as a priority. The drafters, to put it another way, just weren’t that into you.
So, on the third hand, before the form and rate filings pour out, what standards could a neutral observer use to determine whether the 2017 individual health rate filings are looking good or bad?
Here are some thoughts.