Health insurers propose higher 2015 rates

LANSING – Most people buying their own health insurance in Michigan could see near double-digit premium increases next year.

State insurance regulators said Wednesday that dominant insurers Blue Care Network and Blue Cross Blue Shield want to raise rates by an average of 9.3 percent or 9.7 percent in 2015. The rate hikes are subject to change pending state review by Aug. 8, after which the federal government in the fall likely will approve whatever Michigan regulators decide.

Blue Care and Blue Cross sell policies to about three-quarters of nearly 246,000 Michigan affected residents who purchase their own insurance – either through a new website created under the federal health care law or off the “exchange.”

Humana is the insurer with the third-most customers in Michigan’s individual market and seeks an average 18 percent rate increase affecting 16,600 customers. Time Insurance and Total Health Care USA, the next-biggest players in the market with 14,000 and 13,500 affected customers, proposed 7.9 percent and 8.6 percent hikes on average.

Terry Burke, Blue Cross’ vice president for individual business, said higher premiums are needed to account for rising medical costs and uncertainty over the influx of previously uninsured people covered through health overhaul.

“We’ve got a big influx of people and we don’t know what their claims conditions are. The actuaries are concerned about that risk mix,” he said.

Michigan’s federally controlled insurance exchange is poised to grow, with more carriers – 18 – entering the market to compete for business, five more than last year. Sixteen submitted plans for the individual market and 11 offered plans for employers with up to 50 workers.