Minnesota Department of Commerce releases preliminary 2019 health insurance rates

Each year, the Minnesota Commerce Department reviews the proposed individual and small group health plans submitted by insurers. These are plans that insurers intend to offer to consumers during the annual open enrollment period which begins on November 1. Rates must be approved by the Commerce Department prior to the plans being sold to consumers.

Small group health plans are designed for employers with 2-50 workers. Individual health plans are designed for Minnesotans who purchase their own coverage rather than receiving it through employer-based insurance or public programs such as Medicare, Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare.

The Commerce Department does not “set” health insurance rates. Instead, it reviews the information submitted by the insurers to determine whether their proposed rates are justified. Rates must be justified both by the benefits that consumers receive for their premiums and by the insurance company’s ability to pay expected medical claims costs based on premium revenue.

Rate review also ensures that policies comply with state and federal laws that protect consumers – including coverage of pre-existing conditions and free preventive care, the adequacy of the provider network, and the procedures an individual must go through in order to enroll or have a claim paid.

In addition, the Affordable Care Act limits the factors that insurers can use to charge individual consumers higher health insurance rates. For coverage effective January 1, 2014, rates can vary based only on age, tobacco use, family size and geography.

Commerce may deny or modify proposed rates (up or down) if it determines that they are excessive or inadequate in relationship to the benefits offered.

According to Minnesota state law amended in 2017, insurers’ proposed rate changes for individual and small group health plans must be made public within 10 business days of the submission deadline to the Commerce Department.  The submission deadline for insurers’ 2019 proposed rates is June 1, 2018, and they are made public on June 15, 2018.  Final approved rates for 2019 will become public by October 2, 2018.

As part of the Commerce Department’s rate review process, Minnesotans may submit public comments on proposed rates by e-mail to healthinsurance.ratecomments@state.mn.us.

Approved and Effective Rates

Information–including the summary of benefits and coverage, plans and benefits, rates, and service area for plans offered on and off MNsure in the individual and small group market–are available by health insurance company.