Next year, monthly premium rates in California will go up by 13.2 percent on average, the result of two insurers who have requested steep rate increases. As CBS5 and the AP report, officials at Covered California, the state's insurance exchange, announced the hikes would be much higher than the four percent increases of the last two years. The Business Times notes that here in San Francisco, rates will be even greater than the state average at 14.8 percent.
Covered California provides health insurance through 11 insurers who compete for 1.4 million enrollees, those who don't receive coverage through government funded Medicare and Medi-Cal or from an employer. And this year, Anthem Blue Cross and blue Shield asked for increases: Blue cross one of 16 percent and Blue Shield one of 19 percent. Factoring in other insurers who asked for lower rate increases, the average increase is just above 13 percent.
Why ask for the increases? More people were expected to use the exchange than actually did. However, Covered California points out that the rate of uninsured Californians is half what it was just before the Affordable Care Act went into effect.
"Shopping is going to be more important this year than ever," said Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee. "We have a competitive marketplace... Health plans that raise their rates do so at their peril.”