Health insurance rates could increase - WNEM TV 5

Health insurance rates could increase

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

Thousands of Michiganders who buy insurance through the state's insurance exchange could take a big financial hit if rate hikes are approved.

Insurance companies are calling for rate hikes on plans under the Affordable Care Act.

There are 345,000 residents statewide who are covered through the healthcare.gov exchange. On average, their rates would rise 17 percent for 2017.

"Many of the uninsured, especially the Millennials, are opting not to buy insurance and instead pay the penalty. We're seeing about 20 percent of our members come in at the beginning of the year then drop coverage at some point during the year. And the specialty drug costs continue to be an issue that cause the premiums to go up," said Richard Notter, spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Notter said the company is requesting a nearly 19 percent rise in rate. However, he insists every effort is being made to keep health insurance affordable.

"We're obviously doing everything we can here to control costs as much as possible. We're offering new plans that are less expensive than some of the other plans and offer other options for them to buy down. And then the other factor is they need to make sure that they find out whether or not they qualify for a subsidy. Because the government is assisting those who are having difficulty paying the premium," Notter said.

Notter admits a double digit increase for premiums is significant, but he said it is comparable to other health insurance providers throughout the country.

"Nationwide the average ask is in excess of 20 percent. So compared to the rest of the nation, our rate increase request is actually lower than many other plans including many other blues plans have asked for," he said.

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