GMCB trims MVP rate hike request

MONTPELIER — The Green Mountain Care Board has approved a 3.5 percent rate increase for MVP Health Care plans sold on the Vermont Health Connect exchange in 2018.

The Green Mountain Care Board, the state’s regulatory body that approves insurance rates and hospital budgets, announced the approved rate increase Wednesday. It is about half of the 6.7 percent rate increase originally sought by MVP, which insures about 10,000 Vermonters.

“Today’s decision reflects our dual interests to approve rates as lean as possible, while ensuring that carriers remain solvent and therefore willing to continue to participate in our health insurance marketplace,” the board wrote in its order granting the increase.

MVP and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont, the state’s largest insurer, filed requested rate increases with the board in mid-May. The board then conducted a 90-day technical analysis that included public hearings on the rate requests. The board is expected to issue the approved rate for Blue Cross Blue Shield this week.

MVP requested the 6.7 percent average rate increase, which it later revised down to 5.1 percent, citing rising medical and pharmaceutical costs, increased utilization of medical services and changes to federal and state laws as justification for the proposed rate.

Ted Herman, vice president of marketing and communications for MVP, did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

The 3.5 percent rate increase represents an average across different benefit benefit plans that have varying levels of out-of-pocket costs for consumers.

Vermonters enrolled in MVP plans on the state’s insurance exchange could see higher or lower increases in their premiums based on the plan they choose.

The board, through its analysis and the public hearings, determined that MVP’s average 2018 rates should be lowered for several reasons.

It lowered MVP’s rate request by 1.3 percent based on hospital budgets for next year.

In its decision, the board noted that MVP’s total share of business on the exchange has increased from 10 percent in June 2016 to 15 percent in June 2017.

MVP expects to gain further market share from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont in 2018 because of its competitive rates.

The board also noted, however, that while its market share on the exchange has increased, its large group business and overall membership in Vermont has declined.

“It is encouraging to see MVP continue its work to control costs and provide quality health insurance in Vermont,” Kevin Mullin, chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board, said in a statement.

“In a time when we are seeing insurers pull out of communities across the country, it is important for Vermonters to have options for their health insurance, and MVP’s rate certainly works toward this goal.”

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