PROVIDENCE — Health insurance companies in Rhode Island are again asking the state to approve steep rate increases that would begin in 2023.
The Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner Friday afternoon released the individual, small, and large group market premium rates requested by the state’s insurers. Requested rate increases ranged from nearly 7 percent to 14 percent.
“My office is committed to rigorously reviewing these proposed rate increases to ensure that the rates that are ultimately approved are in the public interest and actuarially sound,” said Health Insurance Commissioner Patrick M. Tigue in a statement.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island and Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island requested plans to be sold on the individual market for people who do not receive insurance through their employer. Blue Cross Blue Shield requested a 9.6 percent rate increase into the next year, and Neighborhood requested a 6.8 percent increase.
Melanie Coon, a spokeswoman for Blue Cross Blue Shield, said in an email to the Globe that actual rate increases will vary depending on age and plan selection. She said that requested rate increases were factored by “significant inflation in the cost of goods and services in all sectors of the economy, including medical services and drugs, and the return to pre-pandemic levels of healthcare utilization.”
Blue Cross Blue Shield, Neighborhood Health, UnitedHealthcare, and Tufts Health plan all filed small group market plans.
UnitedHealthcare requested the largest increase among all insurers at 12.3 percent under their HMO plan and a 10.8 percent rate increase under their PPO plan. This is compared to the company requesting the state approve a 17.5 percent rate increase on their HMO plan and a 10.7 percent increase under their PPO plan in 2022.
A UnitedHealthcare spokesperson did not immediately respond to the Globe for comment.
Blue Cross Blue Shield, the state’s largest health insurer with nearly 41,000 people enrolled as of March to their small group plan, requested an 11.7 percent increase. Neighborhood Health requested a 9.3 percent increase.
Neighborhood Health’s Vice President of Commercial Products Elizabeth McClaine said in an emailed statement that the majority of of members’ premiums will be “significantly offset by increases in advanced premium tax credits.”
“Neighborhood offers the two lowest cost health plans on the state’s health insurance marketplace,” said McClaine. “Even with the proposed 2023 rate increase, Neighborhood will still be the most cost effective option as we have for the past nine years.”
Five insurers, which included Blue Cross Blue Shield, UnitedHealthcare, Tufts Health Plan, Aetna, and Cigna, filed large group rates. Aetna requested the highest rate increase at 13.4 percent while UnitedHealthcare requested the lowest rate increase at 11.3 percent.
Tigue, who is expected to approve, modify, or reject the proposed rates in mid-to-late August, said in 2022 that he was deeply concerned with the steep requested rate increases, which went up to 20 percent last year.
“Recently, health insurers have generated substantial profits as a result of the reduction in medical services experienced during the coronavirus disease 2019 public health emergency,” he said at the time.
But on Friday, Tigue said that these proposed rate increases demonstrated the “continued need for shared accountability by insurers and providers to address the underlying costs of health care in order to promote affordability for Rhode Island consumers and businesses.”
Cory King, a policy director in Tigue’s office, said Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner will review each health insurer’s coverage and benefit contracts with consumers to “ensure that plans sold in Rhode Island meet all benefit, access, and member cost sharing standards required by state and federal law.”
The office will accept public comment on the proposed rates through July 12 in writing, and will also hear public comment at a virtual town hall on July. 7.