State News

Vermont Health Connect enrollees to pay hundreds more in premiums next year

By Liora Engel-Smith/ VTDigger

Vermonters buying health insurance through the state’s Obamacare portal, Vermont Health Connect, will likely see a steep increase in their premiums next year, after state regulators voted this week to allow double-digit increases.

The increases could coincide with the end of federal marketplace subsidies under the American Rescue Plan next year. The increases could push some Vermonters out of the insurance market altogether.

The Green Mountain Care Board, an independent body that regulates hospital growth and a significant chunk of the health insurance market in Vermont, voted Thursday, Aug. 4 to allow double-digit rate increases for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont and MVP Health Care in 2023, according to a press release from the board.

Thursday’s decision affects some 72,000 Vermonters in two groups: those who buy health insurance on their own, and those who get insurance through their small employer.

Enrollees who get their insurance through their small employer would face an average increase of 11.7%, or $71 per month, on their Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont plans. Under MVP, the increase would be 18.3% on average, or $106 per month.

People who buy insurance on the marketplace on their own would face similar increases. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont would raise its premiums by an average of 11.4%, or $79 a month. MVP’s rates would rise 19.3% on average, or $130 a month.

Both insurers had initially requested even higher rate increases for both categories. In its press release, the board cited inflation and workforce pressures as factors driving those requests. Regulators reduced the requested amounts for both insurers, but kept rate increases in the double-digits.

The decision comes just days before the Green Mountain Care Board begins its annual hospital budget review process. Here, too, hospitals have asked for steep increases that could push premiums — and the cost of care in Vermont — upward.

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