BEND, Ore. (AP) — Health insurers in Oregon continue to request smaller annual increases in health insurance rates from year to year and are expanding into new service areas — both signs the market is stabilizing.
The Bulletin reports that Oregon Insurance Commissioner Andrew Stolfi on Tuesday released the rates Oregon insurance companies requested for plans sold to individuals and businesses with 50 or fewer employees. The rates do not apply to most Oregonians who are covered by large employer sponsored plans or public plans such as Medicare or Medicaid.
Seven insurers requested 2020 premium changes ranging from a 3.2% decrease to a 13.5% increase from 2019 rates.
"After net losses in 2015 and 2016, health insurers' financial statements have revealed over the past two years a return to profitability in 2017 and 2018," Stolfi said. "Those get reflected in the rates we've seen."
Premiums increased by 23% in 2016 and 27% in 2017, followed by smaller increases of 13% in 2018 and 7% in 2019. The requested rates for 2020, which are likely to be adjusted by the state, represent an average increase of 3.3%.
No insurer pulled out of any of the counties in which they offered plans in 2019, and four plans are entering new services areas in 2020. BridgeSpan Health and Regence are both expanding into Deschutes County, bringing the total number of plans serving Central Oregon to six.
Under the proposed 2020 rates, a 40-year-old Portland resident would have a choice of seven plans with monthly premiums ranging from $436 to $552 per month for a silver level plan, designed to cover about 80% of health care costs. Premiums for the Central Oregon market were not yet available.
Officials noted, however, that 74 percent of Oregonians who purchase individual plans on the health insurance exchange receive a federal subsidy that lowers their costs.
The state will now accept public comment on the proposed rates, issuing its preliminary rate decision in late June, with final rates expected by the end of July.