OregonHealthCare.gov is the state's website for buying health insurance coverage.

More than 300,000 Oregonians who buy health insurance for themselves or through a small group plan are likely to see a spike in premiums next year.

The health insurance companies that offer plans on the individual marketplace and those that offer group plans are seeking average rate increases approaching 7%, according to the state Department of Consumer and Business Services, which regulates health insurers.

 (Department of Consumer and Business Services)

In the individual market, the requested rate increases for 2023 range from 2.3% to 12.6%, with a weighted average increase of 6.7%, the department said. That means a 40-year-old with a mid-range plan could pay as much as $507 a month if the rates are approved.

In the small group market, the nine companies offering plans asked for increases from 0% to 11.6%, or as much as $446 a month for premiums, the department said. 

 (Department of Consumer and Business Services) 

In comparison, the cost of plans in effect this year barely budged from 2021, going up by a weighted average of about 1.5% in the individual and group markets. 

The insurers said inflation, a rise in medical costs and changes in enrollment necessitated the increases, according to the department. Health care costs in the United States, which spends a larger share of its gross domestic product on health care than any other industrialized country, rose nearly 5% in 2019, nearly 10% in 2020 and nearly 7% last year. The state is trying to curb increases and has a goal of a yearly rise up to 3.4%. That ceiling is in effect for Medicaid and state-paid health insurance plans, but it is not mandatory for commercial insurers.

The department has two months to review and approve rates for 2023. The public will be able to comment online later this month about them.

To comment

The public comment period starts later this month and runs to July 7 online. There will be public hearings online on July 27 and 28. Go to oregonhealthrates.org for information.

Besides potential rate hikes, consumers will be hit with lower subsidies: Boosted subsidies from the federal government in place for 2021 and this year will end at the beginning of 2023. They have cut premiums by an average of 46%. That enabled people who earned between $13,590 and $27,180 a year to buy a low-end plan for $1 a month. 

The department said it could be worse. Without the state’s reinsurance plan, which uses federal money to reduce premium costs, the rates would increase another 6%. Insurance Commissioner Andrew Stolfi said the program has kept premiums reasonable and given Oregonians choice.

 “Oregon continues to have a strong and competitive insurance marketplace, with four carriers offering plans statewide and Oregonians in most (of) our counties having five or six companies to choose from,” Stolfi said in a statement. 

Stolfi encouraged consumers to comment on the plans and prices and participate in virtual hearings on July 27 and 28. During the hearings, each insurer will give a presentation about its rate requests, answer questions from the department and listen to the public. 

“We look forward to a thorough public review of these filings as we work to establish next year’s health insurance rates,” Stolfi said.

The department will make a preliminary rate decision in early July, with a final decision in early August.

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