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GMCB Cuts BCBSVT Requested Rate Increase

For more information, contact Conor Kennedy (802.345.1958)
Montpelier, VT - The Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB) today announced its decision on Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont’s (BCBSVT) requested rate increase for insurance plans offered on Vermont Health Connect (VHC), Vermont’s online health benefit exchange. The rates were filed by insurers on May 12th and were subject to a 90-day technical analysis and review by the GMCB. The review process included rate hearings open to the public, a public forum, and comment from over 500 Vermonters.
BCBSVT, which insures more than 70,000 Vermonters through VHC, requested a 12.7 percent average annual rate increase for its VHC plans with coverage beginning January 1, 2018. The insurer cited rising medical and pharmaceutical costs, increased utilization of medical services, an increasingly aging population, and mandated changes to federal law as major cost drivers behind the requested rate increase. In other states, insurers are seeking increases of 30 percent and more, in part due to uncertainties with the future of the Affordable Care Act. After a full review, the Board reduced the requested rate increase to 9.2 percent. Vermonters enrolled in VHC may see higher or lower increases in their premiums, however, depending on the benefit plan in which they are enrolled, and are encouraged to find out if they are eligible for subsidies that will offset the cost of their premiums or reduce their copayments and deductibles.
“This year’s proposed rate increase was the largest rate request by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont and the Board faced a difficult task in balancing our different regulatory responsibilities” said Kevin Mullin, Chair of the Green Mountain Care Board. “We are seeing states like Indiana and Wisconsin with areas that will not have any coverage, and a state like Nevada facing the possibility of not having a single option for health insurance on the exchange. We heard from over 500 Vermonters and the Board worked hard to find areas of savings for Vermonters while recognizing the need to make sure Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont maintained its solvency and stability.”