Berlin – The state’s largest health plan submitted its rate filing for Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) on Wednesday. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont (BCBSVT) said premium increases were primarily driven by two factors: Vermonters in QHPs sought more health care than previously anticipated and the costs of pharmacy and medical care continue to rise.
The combination would have precipitated a 10 percent increase, but favorable assumptions by BCBSVT brought the company’s request to the Green Mountain Care Board down to 8.2 percent for 2017 Exchange plans.
The company said in its filing that the 2017 rate request is based on health care consumed by its members in 2015, which is the first full year of data for the QHP combined risk pool under the new plan designs.
“We recognize the burden that health care costs have on Vermont individuals and businesses and we have worked to lower our rate request, but this filing reflects the reality of covering medical and pharmaceutical costs in our state,” said Don George, President and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont.
Government related factors continue to impact health plan premiums. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont explained that, due in part to the ongoing pressure of managing plans purchased through Vermont Health Connect, there is an increase for plan administration in its filing, but it remains well below industry averages. The Federal government waived the Health Insurer Tax for one year, positively affecting rates. Other known factors have not changed, “Unfortunately, the Medicaid and Medicare cost shift continues to impact privately insured Vermonters with a disproportionate share of paying for Vermont’s health care system,” George added.
Following its review, the Green Mountain Care Board is expected to issue a final decision on QHP rates in mid-August. The new rates would become effective January 1, 2017 for individuals and small group employers.
Since 2013, BCBSVT’s approximately 400 employees have conducted extraordinary outreach and support initiatives to assist tens of thousands of Vermonters with navigating the troubled rollout of Vermont Health Connect. Currently there are more than 70,000 Vermonters enrolled in BCBSVT QHPs.
About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont is the state’s oldest and largest health insurer, providing coverage for approximately 225,000 Vermonters through group and individual health plans. It employs about 400 Vermonters at its headquarters in Berlin and its Information and Wellness Center in the South Burlington Blue Mall. More information about BCBSVT is available on the Internet at www.bcbsvt.com.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont is an independent corporation operating under a license with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association made up of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.