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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Asking For a Lower Premium Increase for 2018 ACA Plans

Durham based Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina announced that they were going to ask for a “small” increase for their 2018 Affordable Care Act plans. According to Brian Tajlili, chief actuary at BCBS, the “individual market in North Carolina has become less volatile.”

BCBS announced Wednesday that they want to lower their rate increase request from 22.9 percent to 14.1 percent citing that they had overestimated their medical expenses for 2018. They stated that their customers’ medical claims during June and July were lower than they had expected.

But this doesn’t take away all of the challenges and problems related to the ACA

“There is still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the law. Many customers, particularly those not receiving Federal subsidies, will face challenges affording any premium increase. But for now, we believe we can continue to offer ACA plans in 2018 with a lower premium increase than we initially projected,” Tajlili said.

While a 14.1 percent increase in premiums is less than what BCBS initially thought, it’s still an increase and that’s not something that will sit well with individuals and families not receiving subsidies through the ACA. An individual in their mid-fifties paying approximately $1300 per month now for a “decent” (not great) plan ($15,600 per year) would see an additional $2200 cost per year. A high deductible plan with no co-pays could increase the yearly premium by approximately $1525.

Even an individual receiving a subsidy to help with the cost of their premiums will still feel the effect of a 14.1 percent increase.

The rate increase request must be approved by the North Carolina Department of Insurance. I guess we will sit tight and see what happens.

Blue Cross is the only insurer that offers ACA policies in all 100 counties in North Carolina and plans to continue for 2018. Open enrollment for 2018 under the Affordable Care Act will begin November 1, 2018 and end December 15, 2018.

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