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With big premium bumps, Northeastern consumers may be facing a frigid financial future

Summer may be almost over, but if our premium forecast is correct, winter is coming for consumers on the East coast

We’re not saying we told you so, but we are saying we saw this coming. Health insurance premiums are up nearly 14%, and consumers across the States are already facing inflated insurance costs for the next year. And so far, reports out of New England are looking particularly rough.

In Vermont . . .

Consumers purchasing health insurance through the state’s marketplace, Vermont Health Connect, will likely do a double-take when they discover their state regulators voted for double-digit rate increases for plans through Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of Vermont and MVP Health Care (MVP) in 2023. The decision, which took place early August, will impact approximately 72,000 Vermonters.

Premiums for employer plans from BCBS of Vermont are going up by an average of nearly 12%, and plans under MVP are spiking by 18%.

Consumers shopping on the marketplace will face similar increases with both BCBS of Vermont and MVP, with premiums increasing by more than 11% and 19%, respectively.

Up, up, up.

In New Jersey . . .

In a public hearing last week, health insurers in New Jersey also asked state regulators to approve double-digit premium increases. Seven companies within the state pushed for an average 20% rate increase next year. Understandably, this did not go over well with consumers, who “argued that carriers don’t need the money.”

The companies asking for the biggest jumps were ConnectiCare and Bloomfield-based Cigna. State legislators aren’t buying it, either. State Senator Tony Hwang commented, “There’s a tone-deaf disconnection. . . It seems to many, many people that [insurers] are much more interested in Wall Street rather than the residents and the small businesses on Main Street.”

Sounds about right.

And in New York . . .

The state Department of Financial Services has approved premium increases up to 16% in the individual market and up to almost 14% in the small group employer market. And the carriers tried to get even higher increases, before being bumped back down by regulators.

Look — if these additional dollars were being invested back into hospitals, the very entities delivering care, maybe we could justify the increases. But the fact of the matter is that hospitals’ financial future is looking worse than ever.

Winter sure is coming, but it feels like Groundhog Day – insurance costs go up every single year, and nobody but shareholders seem to be any better off.

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