Hawaii individual health plan members to see big rate hikes in 2017

Hawaii individual health plan members to see big rate hikes in 2017

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - If you've got an individual health plan, brace yourself for more rate hikes in the new year.

Individuals covered by HMSA, the state's largest insurer, will see a 35 percent rate hike.

Kaiser members will see a 25.9 percent premium increase in 2017, the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs said.

Some 41,000 individual plan members are affected by the increases, the latest for Obamacare plans in the islands.

Locally and nationally, premiums have been skyrocketing for individual health plans.

Insurance companies are blaming the increases on a variety of reasons, from not enough healthy people buying individual health plans to the Affordable Care Act requirement that they can't turn people with pre-existing conditions away.

State Insurance Commissioner Gordon Ito said the Hawaii premium hikes were approved in accordance with statutory requirements. Under Hawaii law, rate hikes can't be "excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory."

He added, in a news release, "Healthcare costs continue to rise at a significant pace, while healthcare utilization in ACA plans continue to be extremely high, not only in Hawaii, but nationwide. This highlights a challenge in balancing these rising healthcare costs with ensuring affordable access to health insurance.

"While we hoped to maintain rates at a more stable level, we found the premium increases necessary for carriers to continue to provide ACA individual coverage within the state. Hawaii remains committed to ensuring health care for all and continues to look for ways to improve health insurance access."

Open enrollment for Affordable Care Act plans starts Nov. 1.

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