Public Advocates Take Aim at Blue Cross Rake Hike Request
A public advocate told regulators Thursday that the state’s largest health insurance company does not need to increase premiums 12.7 percent on Vermont Health Connect in 2018.
The advocate from Vermont Legal Aid’s Office of the Health Care Advocate brought in an actuary who said the company could afford to reduce its premium request by about a third — to an 8.7 percent increase.
The actuary testified in front of the Green Mountain Care Board, which regulates hospital budgets and health insurance premiums. The case being considered Thursday affects about 70,000 people who get Vermont Health Connect insurance from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont either on the exchange or through an employer.
Blue Cross is seeking the highest increase it has requested since the company started offering plans on Vermont Health Connect in 2014.
The company originally sought to increase premiums an average of 12.7 percent. The company updated that request to 12.9 percent based on new data. Actuaries for the Green Mountain Care Board said the number should be 12.6 percent, and the company agreed with that analysis.
Blue Cross has cited several reasons for the premium increase, including Vermont’s aging population.
Kaili Kuiper, a lawyer for Vermont Legal Aid’s Office of the Health Care Advocate, said that if the insurer is allowed to raise its premiums that much, customers’ premiums would have increased a cumulative 38 percent since 2014.
She said that while “many factors” in the increase are outside the company’s control, the company’s actuaries have not “applied sound actuarial methodology” and could shrink that premium increase “by increasing the scientific rigor” of their analysis.