Premium Still Rising for Health Insurers

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Sep. 2, 2013 12:00 am  

Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield had $1.23 billion in premium in 2012, which was the most in the state. (Photo by Michael Pirnique)

QualChoice was the only carrier on the list that reported a decline in premium last year. Premium fell 3.2 percent 2012 to $148.9 million.

QualChoice President and CEO Michael Stock said QualChoice lost some business in 2012. “Pricing in the marketplace is very competitive right now,” he said.

He said QualChoice has more individuals covered now than a year ago, but there are fewer lives covered in the group plans.

“We’re seeing some smaller employers who are dropping coverage,” Stock said.

He said that to boost premium, QualChoice began offering dental, vision and short-term gap health insurance on July 1.

Stock said it’s unclear how many people will buy QualChoice’s insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

“I would say that revenue is going to go up because there’s going to be new members that we don’t have today,” Stock said.

But he said he’s concerned because the penalties for not having insurance are “unanimously across the board” going to be less than the cost of insurance. People who don’t have insurance might face a penalty that starts at $95 next year and climbs to $695 in 2016.

Stock said he thinks that someone who is healthy might opt just to pay the penalty rather than buy insurance.

“Somebody who is sick and really needs it, … potentially they’re going to buy it,” he said.

The prices of polices in the marketplace are expected to be released this week.



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