Health insurers rein in rate hikes on New Mexico exchange
By MORGAN LEE
Jul. 21, 2017
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Insurance providers for New Mexico's subsidized health care exchange have substantially decreased requested rate hikes for next year, Insurance Superintendent John Franchini announced Thursday.
Insurance rate increases on the exchange are likely to range from between 6 percent and 20 percent after revisions by four providers, Franchini told an agency oversight committee. Initial proposals from four insurance companies would have raised premiums by at least 20 percent and as much as 85 percent.
About 55,000 New Mexico residents sign up each year for federally subsidized insurance through the state exchange, known as beWellnm.
Federal subsidies are likely limit the impact of rate increases further for low-income insurance subscribers.
Republican plans to overhaul health care subsidies and enforcement provisions have stalled in Washington, shifting the business outlook for insurance providers.
Franchini says the largest initial rate proposal was calculated under the assumption that subsidies would disappear for out-of-pocket expenses such as copayments and deductibles for lower-income patients, as well as income-based tax credits that help people buy coverage.
Concerns remain about whether President Donald Trump will enforce all provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including penalties for individuals who go without insurance. Insurance companies still have until late August or September to withdraw from the New Mexico state marketplace.
While several states are struggling to ensure insurers carriers do not pull out entirely from rural areas, New Mexico has successfully required marketplace insurers to offer policies in every county.
"They found that they can make a living out there and can make a profit," Franchini said of companies doing business in rural areas.
He acknowledged that political uncertainty has provoked "crisis in insurance companies."
"We're working very hard to make sure all companies go forward in our state and are profitable."