"I am disappointed and very concerned by the Office of Health Commissioner's approval today of health insurance rate increases in the individual market for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island and Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island. We consider the rate increases approved by the Office of Health Insurance Commissioner for Blue Cross and Neighborhood to be unnecessary and ill-advised at this time.
My Office objected to increasing these rates for the approximately 45,000 Rhode Islanders and their families who will have to pay more for healthcare coverage at a time when many are struggling due to the health and economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. I am concerned that these increases will have a particularly detrimental impact on those who are least able to afford them, many of whom have historically encountered unequal access to healthcare. This impact is real: there will be Rhode Islanders who will have to make economic choices among everyday necessities based on these unwarranted increases.
While BCBSRI and NHPRI once again sought increases that are larger than what OHIC was willing to approve, the approved increases are significantly larger than the increases justified in this Office's actuarial reports. According to experts retained by this Office, both BCBSRI and NHPRI have reserves that are more than sufficient to meet minimum state and federal guidelines. Insurers may claim they got less than they asked for but their record is clear – nearly every year they request an increase that regulators find exceeds what is reasonable and necessary. Asking for the sun and getting the moon when the moon is really what you want anyway is a win, plain and simple.
My Office will continue to advocate for affordable health insurance and the removal of barriers to quality healthcare access here in Rhode Island."