Monday, May 08, 2017

Singing the Blues in Maryland

Amid all of the spectacle taking place on the floor of the House last week, Maryland announced initial rate increases for 2018 Obamacare plans. The increases are staggering - especially for the leader in market share.

CareFirst, the Blue carrier, has been the overwhelming choice for Marylander's who have signed up for insurance through the state run marketplace. In 2014 they insured roughly 94% of enrollees. That number has decreased to 80% in 2015 then to 68% in 2016.

So how bad is it at CareFirst? The rate increases tell it all. Back in June of 2015 CareFirst was being lambasted by media including the Baltimore Sun who criticized the insurer for "rate increases that are out of line with reality." These rate increases ranged from 19% to 26%.

That was a drop in the bucket compared to the 2017 increases for the HMO at 23.7% and the PPO at 31.4%. But, those were expected. We were told three days ago by Jon Jon Gruber this was a one time blip on the radar as carriers had underpriced the first two years and needed a rate correction.

So what is in store for 2018? CareFirst has announced the following request for rate increases:

HMO: 50.4%
PPO: 58.8%

Finally, with less market share and now being priced in line with reality CareFirst is ready to roll.
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