4.5% average hike in 2015 MNsure health plan rates

MNsure rates
The bronze is the minimum price for a plan for most people buying a commercial plan on MNsure. The two silver plans affect people who are eligible for subsidies. The increase in the second-lowest-cost silver plan means more people will likely be eligible for premium subsidies.
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Updated 4:30 p.m.

Costs for health plans offered through MNsure are expected to rise an average 4.5 percent for 2015, officials with the health exchange said Wednesday.

Premiums will be the lowest of any in the nation and there will be more choices when the new enrollment period launches Nov. 15, the Commerce Department said.

The 4.5 percent average increase for 2015, however, masks some major price swings. In parts of the state, some Minnesotans will see the sticker price for some low cost plans jump more than 30 percent.

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Gov. Mark Dayton called the new MNsure rates "not perfect, but very good."

GOP state Sen. David Hann, a MNsure critic, countered that the 4.5 percent average increase was "bogus" because people who were on the lowest cost plans will see big increases.

• Related:New MNsure rates fuel political fight

MNsure's problem-plagued start last year and its ties to the federal Affordable Care Act have made it a political football with Republicans attacking Dayton over the agency's operation and viability.

The criticism escalated two weeks ago after PreferredOne, the insurer that had the lowest rates and most customers through MNsure, announced it would not offer MNsure plans in 2015, saying providing coverage through the exchange was "not administratively and financially sustainable."

Several Minnesota-based companies, including HealthPartners, UCare, Medica BluePlus, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield, will offer plans through MNsure next year. A total of 84 plans will be offered for individuals and families, up from 78 this year.

MNsure said 26 to 72 plans will be available in every county.

There's no doubt sticker prices on some of the lowest cost plans are significantly higher for 2015, depending on who you are and where you live.

Here are some random examples comparing MNsure's 2014 and 2015 unsubsidized monthly snapshot rates on the low cost "bronze" plans.

• 25-year-old in the Twin Cities, $40,000 annual income: $91 in 2014, $110 in 2015 (21 percent increase)

• Family of four, $80,000 income, Houston County, southeast Minnesota: $760 in 2014, $857 in 2015 (13 percent increase)

• 60-year-old, $40,000 income, Lake County, northeast Minnesota, $329 in 2014, $431 in 2015 (31 percent increase)

Not everyone will have to shoulder the full cost of those increases. Many individuals and families are eligible for tax credits to offset the costs and those credits are expanding in 2015, MNsure said.

Still, with PreferredOne out of the market, people shopping for plans may be in for a jolt.

The lowest premiums for "silver" plans, which offer coverage more generous than "bronze," are also rising.

The lowest cost silver plan premium for a 40-year-old not smoking St. Paulite is rising 18 percent to $181.

The printed price of the second cheapest silver plan in the Twin Cities is also rising, while in many other parts of the country, it's dropping, said Cynthia Cox, who studies health insurance prices at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

"The premium is actually going up next year by 19 percent for the second-lowest cost silver plan," she said. "That's a very steep increase, and in fact it's the steepest increase we've seen so far in the major cities that we've looked at."

Minnesota Senate Republicans said their analysis showed all age groups in the Twin Cities metro area will see premium hikes of 18 percent to 37 percent, no matter the plan.

While the information released Wednesday offers a broad look at what MNsure customers might pay next year, the figures are not final.

The agency says 2015 rates won't be locked in until open enrollment begins Nov. 15.

Click here for the full MNsure release. (.pdf file)

Click here to find rates and plans by company.