Yesterday the Green Mountain Care Board announced that they will require MVP and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont to lower their rates for health insurance to be offered through Vermont Health Connect. Blue Cross will lower their average premium rates by 4.3% and while MVP will be reduced by 5.3%. This decision means that Vermonters buying mid level coverage on the exchange could be seeing their monthly premiums go down by approximately $20.
The Board received close to 100 comments on the complicated filings, many from VPIRG members, asking the Board to keep health insurance rates as affordable as possible. In the end the Board made both insurers reduce the amount of money they were putting in to reserves in favor of using those dollars for patient care. The Board looked at information provided from sate and independent actuaries and determined that both insurers needed to recalculate their proposed rates of growth in order to ensure that the prices being charged to consumers were in fact reasonable.
“We are very excited to see the Board take serious steps to address the issue of affordability in health care,” said VPIRG Consumer Protection Advocate Falko Schilling. “We have a long way to go, but it is encouraging to see reform efforts working to make sure Vermonters health care dollars are going to get them the care they need.”
Anya Rader Wallack, Chair of the Green Mountain Care Board, commented on the decision saying, “The good news is we were able to trim these rates significantly from the levels proposed. Hopefully this action, along with the new assistance Vermonters will receive from the state and federal governments, will make health insurance affordable to more Vermonters. However, the underlying cost of health care and health insurance remain alarmingly high, and we have to redouble our efforts to address this problem.”
Enrollment for Vermont Health Connect will being in October for Vermonters who are buying insurance individually, or are covered through a small business with 50 or fewer employees.