WA: Kreidler Not Anticipating Big Rate Increases for 2015 Plans

Photo credit: UPI

Photo credit: UPI

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said he does not expect a major adjustment in rates for 2015 health-insurance plans.

Kreidler spoke to Seattle Times reporter Carol Ostrom after attending a meeting at the White House on Thursday with President Obama, Vice President Biden, outgoing HHS Secretary Sebelius, other administration officials, and more than 40 other state insurance regulators.

Kreidler said President Obama made clear that he expects careful scrutiny of rates for 2015 health-insurance plans, Ostrom reported. Kreidler also said the White House made clear it expects commissioners to look “very closely” at rate increases.

Kreidler acknowledged that carriers only have a few months of experience on which to base their new rates for 2015.

Nonetheless, “we don’t anticipate a major rate adjustment based on what we know at this time,” he told Ostrom.

Kreidler cited Washington’s Medicaid expansion as one reason, saying “there’s a lot less uncompensated-care bad debt by hospitals passed onto ratepayers.” States that chose not to expand Medicaid are going to have to deal with that problem.

On the other hand, Kreidler didn’t close the door entirely on higher rates: “If insurance companies can show they have a need for a rate increase, we’re not going to say, ‘You don’t get it.’ That’s a recipe for insolvency.”

In Washington state, carriers that want to offer plans for 2015 are facing a May 1 deadline to submit their rate filings — one of the earliest filing deadlines in the country.

Eleven carriers submitted letters of intent to the OIC in February indicating that they plan to submit filings to offer individual policies on the state’s exchange for 2015.  They include the eight carriers offering plans in 2014 as well as three additional carriers: Columbia United Providers, Moda Health and UnitedHealthcare.