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Attorney General files objection to proposed 2021 healthcare insurance rate increases in the individual market

Proposed increases would affect over 45,000 Rhode Islanders as unemployment rates remain at near record levels
PROVIDENCE, R.I. Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced today that the Office of the Attorney General has filed objections with the Office of Health Insurance Commissioner (OHIC) advocating against health insurance rate increases in 2021. The Attorney General objected to petitions filed by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) and Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island (NHPRI) to increase rates for Rhode Islanders who must buy health insurance on the "individual market."

BCBSRI filed for a 5.7% increase in the individual market and NHPRI has requested a 5.8% increase to plan rates. The Attorney General's objections are filed pursuant to his statutory authority to protect and advocate for Rhode Islanders when health insurance rate increases are requested.

"During the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying challenging economic conditions, I believe that no health insurance rate increase should be granted," said Attorney General Neronha. "At this time, higher rates are not affordable. If allowed, these increases would affect over 45,000 people in Rhode Island, a number that will likely rise with increasing unemployment rates. Additionally, any increase will fall particularly hard on minority communities who have experienced long-standing health disparities and obstacles to care, as well as markedly high job loss, during the pandemic."

The Office of the Attorney General, as part of its review, concluded that both insurers have sufficient monetary reserves. In particular, BCBSRI has monetary reserves three times the required minimum and has had its requested rates reduced by OHIC in eight of the last 10 years.

The Attorney General has submitted actuarial reports to OHIC concluding that, even before the affordability of an increase is factored in, there is not an actuarial basis for an increase of more than 1.2% for BCBSRI and 0.6% for NHPRI.

The actuarial reports were produced by Oliver Wyman Actuarial Consulting, Inc. for the Office of the Attorney General and are being reviewed for confidentiality.

OHIC expected to issue a decision on the rate increase request by mid-August 2020.

Civil Division Chief and Assistant Attorney General Miriam Weizenbaum and Assistant Attorney General Maria Lenz of the Insurance Advocacy Unit are handling the matter on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General.


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