Attorney General objects to proposed 2022 state-wide healthcare insurance rate increases

Published on Monday, August 16, 2021

Proposed increases would affect nearly 182,000 subscribers of "individual market" plans and large and small employer group plans

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced today the filing of objections to proposed health insurance rate increases in 2022 with the Office of Health Insurance Commissioner (OHIC).

The Attorney General objected to petitions filed by multiple health insurers with OHIC to increase rates for Rhode Islanders who must buy health insurance on the individual market and who are subscribers of small and large group plans offered by businesses in the state.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) has requested a 3.1% increase in the individual market and Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island (NHPRI) has requested an 8.5% increase to plan rates.

Additionally, insurers in both the small and large group markets – including BCBSRI, NHPRI, United Healthcare, Tufts Health Plan, and Cigna – filed for rate increases ranging from 2.9% to 17.5% in the small group market and 5.3% to 14% in the large group market.

The Attorney General's objections are filed pursuant to his statutory authority to protect and advocate for Rhode Islanders when health insurance rate increases are requested.

"Like last year, this Office is again objecting to proposed health insurance rate increases that we believe are not justified and will ultimately drive up the cost of healthcare for Rhode Islanders," said Attorney General Neronha. "Year after year, Rhode Islanders face rising health insurance costs. Given the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year, and in light of our analysis of the current financial strength of the involved health insurers, higher rates are not warranted, nor affordable for over 42,000 Rhode Islanders who purchase insurance on the individual market, and nearly 140,000 subscribers of small and large employer group plans."

In its objection, the Office raised concerns about affordability for Rhode Islanders who must purchase insurance through the individual market should the requested rate increases by BCBSRI and NHPRI be approved. The request for rate increases on the individual market are being made during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and come after receiving substantial rate increases just last year. The Office further highlighted concerns of affordability among minority communities already suffering from economic and health inequities.

The Attorney General has submitted actuarial reports to OHIC concluding that, even before the affordability of an increase is factored in, there is not an actuarial basis for an increase on the individual market of more than 2.3% for BCBSRI and 5.3% for NHPRI. Increases on the individual market have been approved for BCBSRI in 12 out of the last 14 years.

The Office also highlighted concerns about justification for and affordability of requested rate increases for small and large group plans after health insurers receiving substantial rate increases just last year – the costs of which are ultimately borne by employers and employees.

OHIC is expected to issue a decision on the rate increase request towards the end of August 2021.

Civil Division Chief and Assistant Attorney General Miriam Weizenbaum and Assistant Attorney General Maria Lenz of the Insurance Advocacy Unit are handling this matter on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General.

Objections to the rate increases and the actuarial reports can be accessed online at the links below: