Highmark proposes 48% hike on ACA exchange plans

Pittsburgh-based Highmark, Pennsylvania's largest insurer, is joining the ranks of other payers looking to raise their premium prices on Affordable Care Act exchange plans, according to the Tribune Review.

According to the proposals, ACA plans sold under the name Highmark Health Insurance Co. would increase by an average of 48 percent, while ACA plans sold under the name Highmark Inc. would rise an average of 38 percent. Highmark Health Insurance Co. plans cover 20,000 individuals and Highmark Inc. plans cover 39,000.

The proposed increases follow Highmark's $773 million losses in 2014 and 2015 due to sicker-than-anticipated consumers and low premiums during those years. In addition, Highmark is proposing increases due to the expiration of the risk corridor and reinsurance programs in 2017.

"Our requested rate increases reflect what we believe need to make this market sustainable," said Alexis Miller, Highmark's senior vice president of individual and small group markets, according to the report.

However, the rate increases have yet to be approved by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. When Highmark proposed increases of up to 37 percent last year, the department restricted it to an average increase of 20 percent.

Highmark isn't the only insurer amping up rates. UPMC Health Plan asked for premium increases of 16 percent, while Geisinger Health Plan requested average increases of 41 percent. Aetna, which will sell ACA plans in some Pennsylvania markets, proposed 17 percent increases.

More articles on payer issues:
Blue Cross downgrades UAB Hospital to tier 2
Humana to hire 100 new workers in Florida
Aetna CEO offers no word on headquarters staying in Connecticut

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