LANSING, Mich. — Michigan on Tuesday delayed posting premium increases proposed by health insurers that sell coverage on the state’s federally run marketplace due to uncertainty over President Donald Trump’s threat to stop billions of dollars in payments to insurers.
The state Department of Insurance and Financial Services was supposed to publish the proposed 2018 rate hikes Tuesday. But it secured a 30-day extension from the federal government, citing “uncertainty” over whether insurance companies will be reimbursed for providing required financial assistance to low-income consumers.
Open enrollment begins Nov. 1 and continues through Dec. 15. Nine insurers — one fewer than this year and five fewer than in 2016 — want to participate in the Michigan Health Insurance Marketplace next year.
DIFS Director Patrick McPharlin required the companies to submit two rate filings — one that assumes no “cost-sharing” reductions and another that factors them in. The payments to Michigan insurers, which help subsidize “silver” plans for people making up to 250 percent of the poverty level, totaled $166 million in 2016.
“If rates do not account for such expenditures, these issuers could suffer significant financial losses. Unfortunately, this means higher premiums will be charged,” McPharlin wrote in a June 1 bulletin.
For months, Trump has been threatening to stop payments that reimburse insurers for reducing copays and deductibles for lower-income people. The cost-sharing subsidies are under a legal cloud because of a dispute over whether the Affordable Care Act properly approved the payments. Other parts of the health care law, however, clearly direct the government to reimburse insurers.
With the issue unresolved, the Trump administration has been paying insurers each month, as President Barack Obama’s administration had done previously.
Trump returned to the subject last week after the Republican drive to repeal the health care law fell apart in the Senate, tweeting, “If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies…will end very soon!”
More than 375,000 people in Michigan signed up for and were deemed eligible for 2017 marketplace coverage, according to the U.S. government. An estimated 80 percent were due to receive tax credits lowering their premiums by an average of $213 a month.