California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Vermont Is First State To Post Certain Health Plan Rates Under ACA

On Monday, Vermont published proposed 2014 insurance rates from two health plans for state residents who will purchase individual coverage through the state's health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act, making Vermont the first state to make such information available to the public as required by the ACA, the AP/Boston Globe reports (Ring, AP/Boston Globe, 4/2).

Details of Published Rates

State and insurance officials said the availability of the proposed rates would help quell some concerns about "rate shock," because the two insurers -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont and MVP Health Care Plan -- have proposed rates comparable to what currently is available across the state (Galewitz, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 4/1).

Under the proposed rates, a family of four with an annual income of $32,000 would pay $45 per month out of pocket, while a single individual with an annual income of $40,000 would pay $317 a month.

According to the AP/Globe, the rates for catastrophic coverage range from an average high of $1,700 per month for a family to an average of $745 per month for an individual under age 30. The figures do not take into account government subsidies, which would lower the costs, AP/Globe reports (AP/Boston Globe, 4/2).

Mary Eversole -- executive director of the Vermont Insurance Agents Association -- said the insurers' proposed rates are only about 10% higher than their 2013 rates ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 4/1).

According to the Wall Street Journal, the insurers did not have to make significant changes in the costs of their policies because their benefits already are close to meeting most of the ACA's requirements (Radnofsky/Wilde Mathews, Wall Street Journal, 4/1).

State insurance regulators will have to review and approve the proposed rates, Kaiser Health News' "Capsules" reports. Robin Lunge, director of health reform in the Vermont governor's office, noted that the state signed off on a roughly 10% hike to individual policy rates for 2013 after health plans had sought about a 13% increase.

Vermont Might Not Be a Good Model for ACA's Effect on Premiums

Meanwhile, some observers have suggested that Vermont might not be a good example of how the ACA is influencing premium rates, because the state already has adopted several of the law's key provisions.

For example, the state bans insurers from using an applicant's health status to determine premiums, and it is one of just seven states nationwide that has implemented so-called community rating regulations, "Capsules" reports ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 4/1). In addition, the state's uninsured rate of about 9% is significantly lower than the 16% average nationwide (Wall Street Journal, 4/1).

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