Health officials on Thursday announced that insurance rates for 2015 will be released ahead of schedule. Earlier this week every member of Arkansas’s House delegation signed onto a letter urging state health officials to provide details about what health insurance rates will be in 2015.
The letter from Congressman Tim Griffin, Steve Womack, Rick Crawford, and Tom Cotton urged the Arkansas Insurance Department to release what premium costs will be next year, because they feared a wave of cancellation notices tied to the Affordable Care Act. The four Republicans wanted Arkansans to have plenty of time to review plans to pick through the Healthcare Exchange.
But because of a change in federal rules, the state insurance department – back in March - allowed Arkansas to keep plans deemed non-compliant because of a lack of coverage all the way through 2017. Some of the rationale stated by the Republican congressman for releasing the rates early may be gone in light of the coverage extension. But Cindy Crone, with the Arkansas Insurance Department, told a joint meeting of the Public Health committees that the rates will be released early in the coming days.
“Governor Beebe has asked us to inform you today that he has directed the Department of Insurance to expedite the release of the rates,” said Crone.
The Deputy Commissioner of the Arkansas Health Connector Division of AID said Arkansans can expect to know how much more – or how much less – insurance will cost them in seven to ten days.
“We are confident that you and your constituents will be pleased with the way the rates have come in for this year,” said Crone.
In August partial rate numbers were accidentally posted online. After which Governor Mike Beebe said projections show insurance premiums, on average, are expected to drop by two percent. Beebe has cited the state's alternative to Medicaid expansion, the private option, as key to driving down costs for everyone's insurance rates.
Crone said the new numbers will be in line with Beebe’s past statements. State Representative Kim Hammer of Benton followed-up on Crone’s remarks.
Hammer: "Sitting here today you know what they are you just have to get them packaged with the understanding there might be minimal change. How long have you known what the…"
Crone: "We know what the department has recommended to HHS as the approved rate and we expect that will be very close to the final certification."
The official insurance rates will be approved at the federal level in November.