by Andrew Walden
HMSA individual plan ratepayers are receiving “Happy 2014” letters from HMSA this holiday season. The letters, dated December 27, 2013 and signed by Elena Kambitisi, HMSA Senior Vice President for Consumer Strategy, outline new rates effective February 1, 2014.
These are the rates for a 50 year old non-smoker:
Single = $580.25
Two-Party = $1161. 00
Family = $1742.50
The highest Health Exchange rate for a single 50-year old non-smoker is $518.59 from HMSA. The lowest, for a Kaiser Bronze plan with significantly less coverage is $203. Logically the higher rates will push HMSA and Kaiser clients to consider buying other plans. Many will buy high deductible Bronze plans thus reducing HMSA and Kaiser operating expenses.
Kambitisi exults: “The state has just approved premiums for HMSA individual plan members who are extending their plan for a year.” Unlike the infamous September, 2013 letter from HMSA President Michael Gold, Consumer Strategist Kambitisi avoids blaming Obamacare for this latest rate hike, but the insurer sang a different song when winning approval of these rate hikes from the State Insurance Commissioner. The Star-Advertiser December 31, 2013 reports:
The state Insurance Division said Monday that Kaiser Permanente Hawaii would be allowed to boost premiums by an average 9.2 percent for individual plans with 11,000 enrollees and by 5 percent for 26,300 small-business policyholders at their contract renewal dates.
Hawaii Medical Service Association also got the green light to bump up rates by 7.5 percent for 14,300 individuals. HMSA had been cleared earlier this year to increase small-business rates by 6.8 percent effective this past July for 118,000 members....
Both HMSA and Kaiser said the rate adjustments were necessary to cover higher projected medical expenses and taxes and fees related to President Barack Obama's signature health care law.
Steve Van-Ribbink, HMSA's chief financial and services officer, said in a statement that 4.4 percentage points of the 7.5 percent increase for individual plans are to cover ACA-related costs. For small-business policies, 3.9 percentage points of the 6.8 percent increase is related to ACA costs....
With Obamacare exchanges failing to attract much consumer interest and ACA rules costing millions of individual plan buyers their insurance plans, President Obama November 14, 2013 ordered that insurers be allowed to provide a one-year extension. HMSA and Kaiser both agreed to extend the existing plans, thus replacing the Bronze Plan as the default option for premium payers.
If no further action is taken, premium payers will get a new round of cancellation letters starting this September, just in time for the elections.