HARRISBURG, Pa., July 1, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller today announced she will hold a public informational hearing on the proposed rates requested by insurers for 2017 individual health plans. The department will use the hearing to receive critical feedback from consumers on the impact of proposed rate increases stemming in part from federal mandates under the Affordable Care Act. Last year, Commissioner Miller reduced the proposed rate increases from insurers by nearly $81 million.
"The Affordable Care Act has helped many Pennsylvanians get vital health insurance, as 505,000 residents now have individual coverage. Pennsylvania's uninsured population fell from 9.7 percent to 8.5 percent during the ACA's first year, and likely has fallen further in the ACA's second year as a result of Gov. Wolf's Medicaid expansion," Commissioner Miller said. "However, the proposed rate increases in many of the plans for 2017 are a concern."
Information on the proposed rates for 2017 is posted on the Insurance Department website homepage, under "Top Pages". The posting of these proposed rates and the public hearing are both part of Commissioner Miller's initiative to provide more information to health insurance consumers. Information on the website also includes the process the Insurance Department uses to review rate requests from insurers, and summaries of how the department reached its decision on final rate approvals.
"I believe a public hearing on these rate requests fulfills the Wolf Administration's high standards for government transparency, while also giving companies an opportunity to explain their requests, Insurance Department staff a chance to outline our review process, and the public with a forum to express how these rates may affect them," said Commissioner Miller.
The public informational hearing will be Wednesday, July 27th, beginning at 9:30 a.m., in Public Utility Commission Hearing Room #1, Keystone Building, 400 North Street, Harrisburg.
At the hearing, Insurance Department staff will detail the process they are using to review rate requests, several insurers will explain the premium increases they are requesting, and the public will have a chance to comment on how proposed increases would affect them. The hearing will be livestreamed, and video of the hearing will be posted in the days following on the department's website. Consumers may also submit comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Consideration of the impact that proposed rates will have on consumers is a top priority when I review rate requests," said Commissioner Miller. "However, another important aspect of consumer protection is to maintain a robust and competitive insurance market, so consumers have choices and can select the best plan at the best price. I am pleased that we have 18 companies offering individual plans for Pennsylvanians. We must ensure that Pennsylvania's market remains attractive for companies, so that consumers continue to have choices."
Every Pennsylvanian will have at least eight different health plans from which to choose in 2017. It is vital for consumers to shop among these various plans available to them. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found consumers who switched from the lowest cost Silver tier plan available to them in 2015 to the lowest cost Silver tier plan available to them in 2016, saved an average of $322 a year in premiums. The study also found that 52 percent of Pennsylvanians who bought plans on the federal government exchange, www.healthcare.gov, in both 2015 and 2016, did switch to plans better suited to them for 2016.
Seventy-five percent of Pennsylvanians who bought plans on the federal exchange for 2016 are receiving tax credit subsidies to help pay premiums, and income limits to qualify for subsidies are $47,520 for an individual, and $97,200 for a family of four.However, in order to qualify for subsidies, consumers must buy health insurance plans through the healthcare.gov site."
MEDIA CONTACT: Ron Ruman, 717-787-3289
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Insurance Department