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By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – At the final public meeting of the ad hoc Small Employer Task Force, R.I. Health Insurance Commissioner Christopher F. Koller has asked for public input by small businesses on the rate hike requests filed by Rhode Island’s three commercial health insurers for 2013.
“Commissioner Koller very much wants public reaction to the rate filings – and would especially like to hear from employers (small business owners or nonprofit leaders) who purchase insurance for your employees,” said an e-mail sent out in advance of the meeting. “Can you afford the new rates – or the current rates? What changes do you want in your insurance rates?” The e-mail even had prompts suggesting the best way for a small business owner to tell his or her story.
The meeting is scheduled to take place Monday, June 11, from 4:30 to 6:00 pm, at the offices of the Public Utilities Commission, 89 Jefferson Blvd, in Warwick.
All three insurers – Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, UnitedHealthcare of New England, and Tufts Health Plan of Rhode Island – filed rate requests for 2013 well below their historical trend, according to analysis provided by the R.I. Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner.
The lower rate requests reflect R.I. Health Insurance Commissioner Christopher F. Koller’s “guidance" commercial insurers submit a projected cost for medical trends for 2013 of 4 percent.
For small groups, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island filed for a net rate increase in 2013 of 2.3 percent, with a medical trend of 3.8 percent, including a reduction in prior period adjustments of 2.6 percent. Tufts Health Plan of Rhode Island filed a net rate increase of 6 percent for 2013, with a medical trend of 4.6 percent and an administrative expense increase of 0.8 percent. UnitedHealthcare of New England filed a net rate increase of 6.2 percent, with a medical trend of 10.4 percent, and a contribution to reserves of 1 percent. United’s rate request included a reduction from prior period adjustments of 3.2 percent as well as a reduction in administrative expenses of 2 percent.
For large groups, Blue Cross filed a net rate increase for 2013 of 4.2 percent, with a medical trend of 3.1 percent. Tufts filed a net rate increase of 6 percent, with a medical trend of 4.6 percent, and United filed a rate increase of 10.5 percent, with a medical trend of 10.5 percent as well as a 1 percent contribution to reserves. This figure was offset by 3.7 reduction in administrative expenses.
The Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner said that it was in the process of reviewing the rate requests and would make a final decision in early July.