Approximately 37,000 Coventry health insurance enrollees in Iowa may experience premium hikes that average 23 percent in 2017.
Coventry’s proposed increases would affect consumers who purchase coverage on their own and not through an employer.
The proposal marks yet another announcement in recent weeks from a large insurer intending to substantially increase premiums in Iowa. Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield sent letters earlier this month informing approximately 30,000 customers statewide that it plans to raise their premiums by 38 to 43 percent next year.
“The prospect of rising premiums threatens Iowa families, small business owners and the economy in our state,” Rep. David Young (R-IA) recently told Patient Daily. “We need to strengthen our country’s health care system by allowing for greater choice, demanding transparency in pricing and empowering Iowans with their dollars to make the affordable health care decisions they deserve.”
Consumers have since flooded the Iowa Insurance Division website with comments expressing their outrage. The insurance division is responsible for determining whether or not the proposed increases will be approved.
A hearing has been scheduled for July 23 by Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart. While such hearings often elicit compelling testimony opposing premium hikes -- particularly in recent years -- the insurance division has approved most of the health insurance premium increases in the past after independent health experts determined that the proposed increases were warranted by the expenses related to health care.
Iowans who qualify for Obamacare subsidies will be shielded from the increases as their subsidies will also increase to help offset the additional costs, should the premium increases be approved.
According to the company, the increased cost of drugs and medical services, coupled with higher-than-expected health care claims, have left the insurer little choice but to propose the premium increase. Coventry has also indicated the expiration of ACA federal subsidies at the end of the year as another reason why premiums must go up.
Iowans aren’t the only residents facing steep premium increases. According to rate filings, several Maine insurers have made similar proposals for the upcoming year: Community Health Options seeks a 22.8 percent hike; Harvard Pilgrim, 18.7 percent; Aetna, 14.2 percent; and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, 14.1 percent.
Coventry, which is currently the most popular choice for Iowans seeking to purchase health care coverage under the AFA, was purchased by Aetna, a national insurer, in 2013.