LANSING – Persons seeking health insurance via the federal marketplace could see a major decrease in what they pay starting next year.

The Department of Insurance and Financial Services announced the proposed 2020 rate change requests Wednesday. Of the 11 issuers in the individual market, seven reported a rate decrease ranging anywhere from 0.1 to 8.8 percent, two reported no change from the previous year and two reported an increase. Those covered under Physicians Health Plan could see a cost increase of 0.6 percent and people covered by Oscar Insurance Company could see an 8.3 percent increase.

All issuers under Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, which has the vast majority of the market, could see a decrease in rates: Blue Care Network of Michigan would decrease by 1.2 percent and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Mutual Insurance Company would see a decrease of 7.7 percent. These two providers comprise more than 200,000 enrollees, or about 76 percent of total enrollment, the largest of any insurance company in the state.

Rick Notter, director of individual business for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, said the overall cost decrease of rates across providers could be attributed to market stabilization.

“The individual market as a whole is stabilizing compared to prior years, which is helping in rate moderation,” he said. “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is seeing lower benefit trends leading to increased rate sufficiency over the last couple of years, which has contributed to lower rates.”

The greatest decrease in potential rates for 2020 open enrollment goes to Molina Healthcare of Michigan, Incorporated, which might see a drop of 8.8 percent for its 6,742 enrollees.

Because of the discrepancy between increases and decreases, the average of the rate change for the individualized market shows a 2.5 percent cost increase even though most issuers are reporting a decrease or no change in costs.

Rate changes do vary by plan, geographic area and whether the enrollee smokes or not. The department also notes that people receiving tax credits covering “all or part of their premium will experience different rate changes due to their tax credit calculation.”

All rate changes are tentative until approved by the department, which is seeking public comment on the proposed changes as well. Email addresses for comments addressed to specific issuers can be found within the rate change request report.

“Michigan consumers have a strong lineup of insurers from which to choose when shopping for health insurance coverage,” Insurance and Financial Services Director Anita Fox said in a prepared statement. “We are entering the 10th year of the Affordable Care Act. The fact that we have nine companies continuing to offer plans shows that Michigan’s marketplace is continuing to thrive. … A robust marketplace is an important part of ensuring that more Michiganders are covered in 2020.”

Open enrollment begins November 1 and closes on December 15, with coverage beginning immediately on January 1, 2020.

This story was published by Gongwer News Service.