<script async src=”//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js”></script>
<!– Front page sidebar –>
<ins class=”adsbygoogle”
(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Insurance Rates Headed Up

Insurance Rates Headed Up

'If the rates go up 20 percent, I would not be surprised, since we are the third lowest state in rates now' – New Mexico Insurance Superintendent John Franchini

Blue Cross Wants Back into N.M. Individual Health Plan Market


After sitting out a year on New Mexico’s health insurance exchange because it couldn’t get a 52 percent rate hike, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico is looking to get back on the exchange for 2017.

The insurer is one of five companies that have filed preliminary rates for individual plans for 2017 for the exchange, Superintendent of Insurance John Franchini told ABQ Free Press. The other companies that have filed are New Mexico Health Connections, Presbyterian Health Plan, CHRISTUS Health Plan and Molina Healthcare of New Mexico. Those four firms sold policies on the exchange this year.

The preliminary rates aren’t yet public and will most likely be adjusted by Franchini’s office, but a source told ABQ Free Press that two insurers are seeking average rate increases of 28 to 30 percent. Another is asking for increases of up to 80 percent, and two are asking for increases in the 3 to 12 percent range.

Franchini said the rates will be made public by the end of the month. After that, the insurers will have an opportunity to further adjust them. The final rates for 2017 will have to be approved by Franchini’s office by mid-June.

Franchini said he couldn’t confirm the rate increase figures given to the newspaper, but he added, “If the rates go up 20 percent, I would not be surprised, since we are the third-lowest state in rates now.”

Big Rate Hikes Expected Nationwide

Health care experts have been predicting hefty rate increases on the insurance exchanges for next year. Several large insurers, including UnitedHealthcare, have said they are having trouble making a profit on exchange customers. That’s primarily because people who buy through the exchanges have been sicker than anticipated and have needed more health care than initially thought.

In April, UnitedHealth said that by 2017 it would exit most of the 34 insurance exchanges it sells in. The company said it lost $475 million on the exchanges in 2015 and expects to lose $500 million this year.

Lots of Federal Subsidies

If New Mexico’s exchange rates do rise by 20 to 30 percent, most people who buy individual plans through the exchange won’t pay the full price. That’s because 68 percent of the 54,865 people who bought policies on the exchange this year received a federal premium subsidy, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The average subsidy in New Mexico was $205 a month, meaning that a policy holder actually paid an average premium of $127 a month.

People who buy on New Mexico’s exchange are eligible for premium subsidies generally if they make between 200 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level and can’t get health insurance through their employers.

Blue Cross

Last year, Blue Cross asked Franchini’s office for a 51.7 percent increase for its exchange policies for 2016. Franchini offered the company a 24 percent increase, which it rejected. “I cannot approve a rate increase if I can’t prove it actuarially,” Franchini said at the time. “The public has to have someone in government to protect them.”

After failing to get its rate hike, Blue Cross bailed on the exchange for 2016. That meant that more than 35,000 New Mexicans had to find a different insurer.

The following two tabs change content below.
Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

Latest posts by Dennis Domrzalski (see all)


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


  • Michelr
    May 11, 2016, 12:48 pm

    Rates keep going up and service keeps going down. It is now a 2 month wait to see my Dr.

  • benedict
    May 12, 2016, 8:43 am

    As long as employers thing "containing health care costs" is something that has to do with paying less to employees for their insurance premiums as opposed to tying acceptable premiums to the health insurer’s using their market power to keep down costs (and level out costs) at the provider level, we’re going to have problems. Insurers who pull out when they can’t raise rates 52% should show plans for preventing such rate increases on the provider side.

The following two tabs change content below.
Albuquerque’s definitive alternative newspaper publishing an inquisitive, modern approach to the news and entertainment stories that matter most to New Mexicans. ABQ Free Press’ fresh voice speaks to insightful and involved professionals who care deeply about our community.