Insurance companies on the individual market will increase their premiums between 50 percent and 67 percent, on average -- among the largest increases in the nation. Meanwhile provider networks on those plans will shrink, and almost all the plans will put caps on the number of total customers they accept.
"These rising insurance rates are unsustainable and unfair," Rothman said. "This is a real emergency situation."
The increases apply to people buying individual health insurance -- about 250,000 Minnesotans, or 5 percent of the state. Most Minnesotans get insurance either from an employer plan or from a government program such as
Not everyone on the individual market will see their premiums skyrocket. People who buy insurance through the state-run MNsure exchange and earn less than
These subsidies aren't available for customers who buy their insurance directly from insurers without going through MNsure.
Even as state officials touted the savings available on MNsure, though, they warned about the big costs faced by the many Minnesotans who don't qualify for subsidies because their incomes are too high -- but not high enough to pay their insurance costs.
"These are middle-class Minnesotans," Rothman said. "They are getting squeezed, crushed, by these health insurance costs."
Despite the huge increases, though,
WHY COSTS ARE RISING
All around the country, medical costs are rising sharply, driven in part by prescription drug costs.
Additionally, a federal subsidy to insurance companies meant to keep prices down is expiring. By itself this is causing around a 5 percent increase in rates around the country.
Compared to many other states,
A decision by major insurer
Those companies ultimately decided to stay in the market for 2017 but haven't made any promises for 2018.
PLANS TO CAP ENROLLEES
Most of the health plans remaining in the individual insurance market will stop accepting new customers after they reach a certain number of enrollees.
There appear to be no current figures on how many customers each plan currently has on the individual market as a whole. On MNsure, which accounts for about one-third of the individual market,
Open enrollment for 2017 begins
"People need to sign up early," Rothman said.
FIXES NEEDED -- BUT WHAT?
"What is the Governor waiting for?"
Rothman floated merging the individual insurance market with the more stable small group insurance market -- another 250,000 Minnesotans -- to create a larger pool of customers. He also said he would like to restore a special program for high-risk insurance customers if the federal government would allow it but noted that
Members of each party accused the other of being the one standing in the way of health reforms.
Cox said many of those reforms could have an impact. Lowering the taxes that pay for MNsure could help consumers and/or tempt insurers to remain in the market, though it would also leave a hole in MNsure's financing.
Merging the individual and small-group markets, too, could stabilize the market by creating a larger customer pool -- effectively spreading the cost of the sickest individual market patients onto a larger group of healthy patients. On a bigger scale, Cox said
"What it will come down to is how strong enrollment growth is this upcoming enrollment cycle," Cox said. "If the market continues to grow, that's a sign there's healthy people coming in, which would lead to stability. If the market does not grow, or shrinks, that would be a sign that healthy people are dropping their coverage, which could lead to more instability."
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