Rhode Island’s health insurance commissioner has approved premium hikes of 18- to 20-percent next year on the most popular plans sold through the state marketplace, HealthSource RI. The rate hikes follow the Trump Administration’s decision to cut federal subsidies – known as cost-sharing payments — provided under the Affordable Care Act to help cover the cost of insurance for low-income people.
“We have done everything we can to minimize additional costs for consumers resulting from this shortsighted action on the part of the president,” Rhode Island Health Insurance Commissioner Marie Ganim said in a statement.
Rhode Island insurers requested the rate hikes after President Donald Trump issued an executive order ending the cost-sharing payments. Rhode Island stands to lose nearly $18 million in subsidies, which reimbursed insurers for offering discounts on copayments and deductibles for low-income customers.
Insurance companies are still required to offer the discounts to low-income residents. But instead of recouping the money from the federal government, insurers will off-set the loss in subsidies by charging higher premiums. The policy amounts to a “Trump tax” on health plans in 2018, the insurance commissioner’s statement said.
The premium hikes will affect HealthSourceRI’s most popular insurance plans – the Silver Plans – which cover about 70 percent of the exchange’s customers, said Kyrie Perry, a HealthSourceRI spokeswoman.
Nearly 1,400 customers who have Silver Plans, she said, earn too much to qualify for financial assistance. Those middle-class customers “will feel the full impact” of the premium increases.
But even customers who qualify for tax credits, Perry said, may see some increase in premiums. “For this reason,” she said in an email, “we’re encouraging all customers to shop around this open enrollment to ensure they understand their options.”
Open enrollment begins Nov. 1st. For more information call HealthSourceRI at 1-855-840-4774, go to their website at www.HealthSourceRI.com or visit their offices 401 Wampanoag Trail, East Providence. Starting Nov. 1st the office will be open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to noon.