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NV Health-Insurance Rates to Continue Their Rise in 2019

Some health insurance plans in Nevada will increase by as much as 14 percent in 2019. (Hloom templates/Flickr)
Some health insurance plans in Nevada will increase by as much as 14 percent in 2019. (Hloom templates/Flickr)
July 20, 2018

CARSON CITY, Nev. – The Nevada Department of Insurance is saying health insurance rates will increase in 2019 at the lowest percentage in years – but that isn't the whole story.

This week, the department announced proposed rate hikes of 1.9 percent for health plans on the insurance exchange, and 3.1 percent for plans off the exchange.

But Andres Ramirez, Nevada director with the group Protect Our Care, points out those figures are averages – and some Nevadans will see rate hikes as high as 14 percent. He adds many are still feeling the blow of last year's average increase of more than 30 percent.

"When you look at the totality of what has happened to insurance rates in Nevada,” says Ramirez, “both on the exchange and off the exchange, as a result of some of these administrative actions that the Trump administration has been taking, absolutely all Nevadans are going to have seen double-digit increases."

Ramirez credits Gov. Sandoval and state lawmakers with taking actions to control insurance costs. Nevada's state exchange is leaving the federally-run web platform to save money by running its own site, for example.

The state also funds its own insurance navigator programs, and hasn't faced the drastic cuts other states have seen for advertising and outreach under Trump administration policies.

But Ramirez says there's no getting around some of the insurance market disruption that's been caused by administrative action. For example, the feds have stopped enforcing the individual mandate, which required people to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty.

When insurance companies can't predict what's going to happen politically, or how many people might enroll in their plans, Ramirez says, it's harder to keep their rates stable.

"The longer and longer and longer there's instability in this process, the more and more that consumers are going to be affected by these actions,” says Ramirez.

In spite of volatility, more than 91,000 Nevadans got health coverage through the state exchange in 2018, an increase over previous years.

Katherine Davis-Young, Public News Service - NV