Updated: 3:38 p.m. | Posted: 1:35 p.m.
Minnesotans buying non-group health insurance for themselves and family members are likely getting a price break next year.
State Commerce Commissioner Jessica Looman said the final approved rates from four of the five companies selling coverage dropped at double-digit rates. Blue Plus' average rates decreased the most — 27.7 percent. HealthPartners plans had the smallest average drop at 7.4 percent.
"Rates are going down in the individual market because of lower utilization rates, lower costs per service, Minnesota's reinsurance program and a strong economy," Looman said at a State Capitol news conference Tuesday morning.
By way of example, Looman said for a second lowest cost "silver-level" plan, a 40-year-old in Hennepin County would pay $300 per month. That's down $27 from last year. A 40-year-old in Duluth would pay $332 per month which is down $94 from last year.
The information from the Commerce Department did not address one important aspect of health insurance that can profoundly affect consumers' finances--out-of-pocket costs. Earlier this year, the Minnesota health department issued a report assessing the state of the non-group market in Minnesota and noted "a shift towards insurance products with considerable cost sharing," the industry term for deductibles, co-payments and other out-of-pocket expenses.
Looman said Minnesota's reinsurance program, which provides a financial safety net for insurers, is playing a major role in helping to stabilize the individual market and bring down premiums. She and other state officials are urging lawmakers to come up with a replacement because the program expires after next year.
Looman cautioned that consumers shopping for individual market coverage next year should know that the percentage reductions are only the average decline for each carrier and individual circumstances will determine the prices they see.
"The actual rate change a consumer will experience can vary from the average based on the specific plan they select, where they live and how old they are," Looman said.