Non-profit company successfully keeps rates down for 2018, despite a 47 percent increase in pharmaceutical trend
July 17, 2017 (Smithfield) – In what has become a trend in the local health insurance market, once again Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island stands alone in seeking state permission to offer the lowest-cost health insurance plans for the state’s individuals, families, and small businesses purchasing coverage via HealthSourceRI. Neighborhood submitted its rate proposals to the state’s Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner (OHIC) in June. If approved by the state, Neighborhood’s new rates take effect January 1, 2018.
Neighborhood has requested a 5.0 percent increase for its individual and family plans. It has also asked permission to increase its Small Business plans (between 2 – 50 employees) by an average of 5.8 percent.
Neighborhood’s rates stand in stark contrast to those proposed by other insurers, all of whom have requested double-digit rate hikes for many of their plans. According to OHIC’s analysis, Neighborhood’s proposed rate increases are among the lowest of any health plan in the country.
“Neighborhood’s mission is to make sure that everyone in our state has access to high-quality, affordable health care, and keeping our rates as low as possible helps us do that,” said Peter Marino, Neighborhood’s President and CEO. “People shopping for health insurance on the state’s exchange will find Neighborhood offers a wide range of options to meet their needs, and every option is the most affordable one in its category.”
Neighborhood attributed the modest proposed increases primarily to rising pharmaceutical expenses and to higher payments to its provider network. From 2015-2016, Neighborhood saw a 47 percent increase in overall per member/per month (PMPM) pharmaceutical costs.
“Excessive price increases for medicines are far outpacing inflation in other areas of healthcare cost such as hospital days and physician costs,” said Dr. Francisco “Paco” Trilla, Neighborhood’s Chief Medical Officer. “We have experienced several years of increases in excess of 10 percent for essential medications, including insulin, which have been around for decades. These price increases are, in our opinion, unjustified and are the major driver of premium increases. We are working with state and federal regulators to try to get this situation under control.”
The 2018 rates also reflect Neighborhood’s ongoing investments in its statewide network of providers. The non-profit insurer makes it a priority to attract and to retain a large network of health care professionals who can deliver the high-quality care Neighborhood’s members have come to expect. As a provider-founded insurance company, Neighborhood has long enjoyed a close partnership with the many doctors, hospitals, and medical professionals who make up its network. Neighborhood’s providers remain deeply connected to the insurer’s mission to secure access to health care for all Rhode Islanders.
“Even in the face of rising costs, Neighborhood does everything it can to keep health insurance affordable,” Marino added. “The overwhelming majority of our members who purchase health insurance on the state’s exchange receive a subsidy that helps control the cost of their monthly premium. These are the folks we keep in mind when we develop our rates, and we are proud to help connect them to the health care they need.”
The majority of Rhode Islanders who purchase coverage on HealthSourceRI, the state’s health insurance exchange, choose Neighborhood (more than 54 percent).