In most states, health insurers are supposed to file individual major medical rate proposals for 2017 with regulators by the end of today.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) wants proposed 2017 rates for any plans to be sold through HealthCare.gov posted on a public comment website by May 25, according to the official CMS filing schedule.
The final HealthCare.gov qualified health plan (QHP) form and rate filings are supposed to be in the HealthCare.gov menu intake system and ready for CMS review by Aug. 23.
Regulators in states with state-based exchange programs can set different filing schedules. Many states have already given insurers a few extra days to get in their filings. State and federal regulators could end up extending the deadlines further, just as they have adjusted other Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) health insurance and public exchange program parameters.
But individual health market watchers could have a much better picture of what the 2017 market might be like by the end of the week.
Many health insurers have expressed their frustration with health insurance market oversight this spring by eliminating agent commissions for individual policies outside the ordinary open enrollment period. UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) said it will withdraw from the PPACA exchange programs in all but a handful of states. Humana Inc. (NYSE:HUM) implied that it also might withdraw from many state exchange programs, and it has already sent several states market withdrawal notices.
Carriers started with PPACA Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) loans filled many exchange program slots in 2014 and 2015. About half of the CO-OPs are gone.
But Andy Slavitt, the acting CMS administrator, testified at a congressional hearing in April that he expected PPACA exchange shelves to be reasonably well-stocked in 2017.
New York state insurance regulators reported a few days later that they believe the New York State of Health should have full shelves in 2017.
Oregon appears to be on track to have nine active individual product issuers, with rate increases ranging from 14.5 percent to 36 percent.
More hints about the 2017 individual health market are coming out now.
For a look at what we found today, read on.
1. Kathleen Sebelius
Kathleen Sebelius — one of the mothers of the PPACA exchange system — went on Bloomberg Television to defend it.
Sebelius is a former Kansas insurance commissioner, a former National Association of Insurance Commissioners president and a former U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary.
CMS, an HHS agency, set up the PPACA exchange system while Sebelius was the HHS secretary.
“The new markets are fairly fragile,” Sebelius told a Bloomberg interviewer, according to a Bloomberg summary of the interview. “Insurers are moving in and out … You’ll see some push and pull over the next couple of years.”
But Sebelius said that it looks as if PPACA and the exchange system have helped hold health insurance cost increases down.