- Kaitlin Schroeder Staff Writer
Miami Valley residents who rely on health insurance bought through the Affordable Care Act exchange will be paying much more next year for coverage and have less plans to chose from.
The four remaining health insurers who will sell plans next year in the Dayton region — CareSource, Buckeye, Molina and Medical Health Insuring Corp. — will all have average premium rate hikes that are higher than the Ohio average rate hike of 34 percent.
For Ohio, the 34 percent average increase, means in 2018 the average individual premium will be up to $5,798.
People who don’t want to buy the expensive plans won’t have a lot of options to chose from.
Darke County residents will only have one option to buy health insurance through the Affordable Care Act next year through Buckeye, and plans from the insurer will on average will cost about 50 percent more.
Miami County will only have one option through CareSource and overall the insurer’s average premiums will increases 36.5 percent.
People will need to enroll between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15.
The details were released by the state this week as the four health insurers prepare to sign their final contracts to sell on the exchanges, amid a chaotic time for the Affordable Care Act.
About 11 percent of the premium increases are because the state is requiring insurance companies to assume that President Trump will follow through on threats to stop federal payments that help cover the cost of the companies selling health insurance at reduced rates on the exchanges.
So far, the Trump administration has continued to make the payments on a month by month basis.
Chris Brock, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Insurance, which regulates the exchanges, said the state is still working out what it will do with the federal payment money if people pay for the 11 percent increase but then the federal payments still come through to cover that 11 percent.
The insurers have already been struggling to attract enough young health people to the exchanges to offset the costs of the older, sicker enrollees, and the soaring costs will not help make it more attractive to healthy people to buy insurance.
In Montgomery County, there were 10,486 people who bought insurance plan through the exchanges during open enrollment last year, with about a third of the plans sold to people between 55 and 64 years old.
And while insurers like CareSource will need to attract more healthy people to try to make plans affordable, this will be harder to do with less advertising and outreach workers, after President Donald Trump’s administration slashed the federal budget for Affordable Care Act outreach.
CareSource, based in downtown Dayton and planning to sell plans in almost every county in the Dayton region, will increase its premium rates by an average of 36.5 percent, just above the state average.
“CareSource, like most insurers in the country, filed premium increases for 2018 health insurance coverage that reflect changes in the competitive landscape and uncertainty surrounding CSRs (Cost Sharing Reductions). We have accordingly evaluated and adjusted our Marketplace rates based on these factors, resulting in increases that are in alignment with statewide averages,” the company said in a statement.
The company said it is expecting “strong enrollment growth due to our plan benefits and competitive product offerings.”
The Dayton nonprofit is the only insurer selling plans in the region with some premiums anticipated to decreases. Its premiums next year range from a 6.1 percent decrease to a 72 percent increase.
CareSource, which mostly manages plans for Medicaid, made a bold move this year when it expanded its private insurance plan into nine Ohio counties and four Indiana counties with otherwise no options for next year.
Buckeye will be selling plans in Preble, Montgomery, Warren, Greene, Darke, Clark, Champaign and Butler. It’s premiums will get an average 49.6 percent hike, with increases ranging from 25.3 to up to 139 percent increases.
Molina will sell in Clark, Butler, Greene and Montgomery County, and its premiums on average will go up 42.2 percent, with its premiums ranging from a 13.5 percent increase to a 142.9 percent increase.
Medical Health Insuring Corp. will sell in Clark, Champaign and Butler and its plans had the smallest average increase at 29.4 percent. Its premiums ranging from an 8.4 increase to a 132.2 percent increase.