NPR Story
3:42 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Commissioner Slashes Health Insurance Rate Requests

Originally published on Fri September 6, 2013 3:47 pm

Commissioner Slashes Health Insurance Rate Requests

Maryland’s insurance commissioner has approved premium rates for individual health insurance plans to be sold through the state’s new health benefits exchange under the Affordable Care Act. 

And they are sharply lower than what the six companies that want to sell health insurance in Maryland had requested.

The commissioner, Therese Goldsmith, said her decision would provide for a “wide variety” to be sold through the exchange, the Maryland Health Connection. Health Secretary Joshua Sharfstein called the rates “good news” for the 740,000 uninsured Marylanders who will be required to buy health insurance under the ACA, also known as Obamacare.

In addition, he said, as many as three quarters of the people purchasing insurance through the exchange will qualify for tax credits that will help lower the rates even further.

According to a health department study, the rates are among the lowest of the 12 states that have proposed or approved rates, including New York and California. In Maryland, they range from as low as $93 a month to $335 a month, depending on age and the level of coverage. By comparison, Colorado’s lowest rate is $146 a month and the District of Columbia’s highest rate is $424 a month.

Gary Claxton, a vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, the commissioner made “some pretty significant reductions compared to what the insurers had asked for.” Sharfstein said the reductions came from cutting administrative costs and changing assumptions in how sick people would be when they came into the market.