Maryland insurer floats 30 percent rate hike

Premiums for some people on Maryland's ObamaCare exchange could rise as much as 30 percent next year, while others could see prices fall by 12 percent, state officials revealed Friday.

Five insurance companies offered plains on the exchange in 2014, and three are proposing price increases, according to preliminary filings.

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CareFirst of Maryland, which had the lowest premium rate on the exchange this year, led the charge with a proposed hike of 30 percent, followed by CareFirst BlueChoice at 22 percent. All Savers Insurance, an affiliate of UnitedHealthCare, sought to raise prices by 5 percent.

The other two companies on the marketplace want to decrease prices by 12 and 10 percent. Those proposals came from the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States and Evergreen Health Cooperative, respectively.

State regulators will approve all price increases. "The rates posted today are proposed, not approved," said Maryland Insurance Commissioner Therese M. Goldsmith in a statement. "We will conduct a thorough review and may require changes to the rates before they are approved."

The wide range of price changes is typical for states as they enter ObamaCare's second year. Moves to increase or decrease premiums are largely determined by how well insurers anticipated their number and mix of customers for the system's first year.

Maryland Health Connection has struggled with severe technical problems, but that is not discouraging new insurers from entering the marketplace. Cigna and UnitedHealthcare of the Mid-Atlantic are both planning to join the exchange next year, officials said.

A background memo from the exchange revealed that regulators in Maryland markedly reduced proposed rate hikes last year, including a 31 percent increase floated by CareFirst Maryland for 2014 that was finalized at 19 percent.

Maryland's prices were among the lowest of all the ObamaCare exchanges last year, state officials said.

Updated at 6:21 p.m.

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