Eight health insurers want hefty premium increases in Minnesota

Don’t tell me you thought they were ever going to charge less? MPR’s Mark Zdechlik reports, “Eight health insurance companies in Minnesota are proposing double-digit increases in average premiums and some want to raise rates by more than 50 percent, according to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, for example, wants to raise rates an average of 54 percent on nine plans. The eye-popping proposals to dramatically increase health insurance premiums, most of which are for individuals and family plans, are drawing fire from Republicans and Democrats. Gov. Mark Dayton called the proposed rate increases ‘outrageous’ given that the cost of health care is currently increasing at just 3 percent.” Hey, someone has to pay for that $100 aspirin.

For the Strib, Christopher Snowbeck writes, “The increases are just proposals, and won’t be finalized for several months. They apply only to the market where individuals purchase non-group coverage — roughly 6 percent of the state’s population — and don’t apply to coverage provided through employer groups and government programs. But the filings suggest turbulence in the individual market, which has grown substantially due to changes with the federal Affordable Care Act.”

The AP story says, “Some of the policies will be offered through MNsure, the state health insurance exchange. The proposed increases do not include any potential government subsidies paid to offset the costs. Under the federal Affordable Care Act, rate increase requests of 10 percent or more must be made public months before approval decisions. The proposed rates were posted Wednesday on the federal website healthcare.gov. Insurers can’t use past losses to justify rate increases; hikes must be based on projected future claims.” So in other words, someone is projecting a new outbreak of the Black Death.

Think of it as a courtesy to an old friend. John Myers in the Duluth News Tribune writes, “Minnesota’s top elected officials voted unanimously Wednesday to cut the fees the state charges U.S. Steel Corp. to mine iron ore on state lands on the Iron Range. The vote is an effort to help the big U.S. steelmaker navigate through tough economic times pushed by a flood of cheap foreign steel and iron ore. The Executive Council—the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor and attorney general—voted to cut the royalty rates for U.S. Steel operations for 15 months, a break that could hit more than $4 million.”

Also in the News Tribune. Tom Olsen reports on a cold case murder resolved after … 32 years. “Nearly three decades after 83-year-old Leona Mary Maslowski was found murdered in her Virginia home, her family had all but given up hope that her killer would ever be found. But an investigation was thrown into high gear in recent months when forensic technology provided new clues about fingerprints found in Maslowski’s apartment, culminating in the Wednesday arrest of 44-year-old Bruce Wayne Cameron.”

Or, as much as two front row tickets. Prior to last night’s show, Jim Hammerand of the Business Journal was saying, “The University of Minnesota will send the Rolling Stones’ promoter an invoice for more than $500,000 for Wednesday night’s show at TCF Bank Stadium, according to a contract released under Minnesota public records law. Want to rent the Minneapolis on-campus football stadium for a concert? That’s $125,000. Preparing the stadium, staffing it, security and clean-up? That’s another $314,000 that Rolling Stones Zip Code Tour promoter AEG Live will pay, including $60,000 for University of Minnesota Police Department staffing.”

Peel me another, Beulah. Rachel Chazin at KMSP-TV says, “On Monday night, Kelly Steinke of Albertville found a juvenile black widow spider in her bag of grapes from Target, even after washing them with vinegar and baking soda. The grapes were purchased this past weekend in Monticello. ‘I called Target to let them know so they can alert their grape supplier,’ she posted on her Facebook page.  There has been recent attention brought to spiders being found in bags of grapes. Last week, a woman from Michigan was hospitalized after she reached in for a grape and was bitten by an adult black widow.” Black widows and “guests” don’t mix well.

Also from Ms. Chazin. “While responding to a domestic assault call in West St. Paul on Friday, an Inver Grove Heights police officer found a 6-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy intoxicated with injuries — a 4-year-old with bite marks all over, and a 1-year-old with a chipped tooth and broken blood vessels in his eye. The two intoxicated children reported that their stepfather, Oscar Cruz, 28, of West St. Paul, forced them to take shots with him without their mother’s knowledge.” I guess that’s called “rollin’ with yer homies,” huh?

Is it worth $1.25 million to you to own Kirby Puckett’s old house? Michael Rand of the Strib says, “A sprawling lake home in Saint Croix Falls, Wis., which was previously owned by Kirby Puckett and is still owned by the trust of his former wife, Tonya, recently went on the market for $1.25 million. The nearly 4,000 square foot home has five bedrooms, three full baths and two partial baths. It’s gorgeous, but the best part is the room that has a ‘Kirby Puckett Pl.’ sign as well as arcade games (including Donkey Kong). Now that is a room … .”

Also up for sale: The Bod’s Cave. The AP tells us, “The former Twin Cities suburban home of Jesse Ventura is for sale. The 5,100-square-foot Maple Grove house sits on at least an acre and is on the market for $719,000. The house has five bedrooms, five baths, a winding staircase and nanny’s quarters. The former governor and pro wrestler hasn’t lived or owned the home for several years.” Does it have giant murals of Mr. Ventura … in every room?

Comments (14)

  1. Submitted by T J Simplot on 06/04/2015 - 07:48 am.

    Dayton doesn’t understand

    While the costs of services do have an impact on rates an even bigger impact is how often those services are being used. The individual market was flooded with people who did not have insurance before. While this is a good thing it also means that there is a big increase in utilization to go along with it. This is the first time the carriers will have a full years of claims on which to base increases.

  2. Submitted by Bill Willy on 06/04/2015 - 08:36 am.

    Financial Services Industry Genuises Strike Again

    “They apply only to the market where individuals purchase non-group coverage — roughly 6 percent of the state’s population — and don’t apply to coverage provided through employer groups and government programs.”

    So let’s see… The cost of your business’s “products” may go up 10% to 100% (or so), so you decide to “offer” those cost increases to 6% of your customers and keep the price the same for the other 94%?

    And, of course, whatever price increases occur will be blamed on the ACA and MNSure.

    As to the massive influx of new customers being the problem, sure: Sudden growth can cause problems, but what usually happens (in the regular free market universe) is prices go down as consumption goes up (calculators and computers, for example). It seems like the health care industry (including insurance and medical device, products and support services) is the only one in which the prices keep going up regardless of how many “units” are sold.

    • Submitted by Tim Smith on 06/04/2015 - 12:55 pm.

      It’s the Big Gov geniuses strike again..

      Your post is well intentioned, but you are off base because you are misinformed. The small group market is mature as they have had guaranteed issue( regardless of health) for over 20 years. People with pre-existing conditions were accepted, so the small group market has not experienced the rate turbulence the individual/family market has over the last two years. The government mandates that insurers rate their plans based on the type of product (group vs. individual) thus the insurers can’t pass off the higher claims expenses to small group customers. Add to that the Feds have been sending reinsurance dollars to States/carriers to stabilize the individual market because they saw this coming. As part of how the ACA was written those dollars are pretty much fazed out next year.

      Nice spin by the Governor regarding the 3% increase in health care spending. It is irrelevant really. He knew this was coming all along. There is no way he couldn’t have known. Dems have been ready to blame the failure of this law to lower premiums on the insurance companies since the start. The blame is on the architects of the law and those who voted for it.

  3. Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 06/04/2015 - 08:43 am.

    There is….

    nothing affordable about The Affordable Health Care Act and no one is getting any healthier.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 06/04/2015 - 09:50 am.

      There’s nothing affordable about Health Care Period

      Not that you’re wrong about the “Affordable Care Act,” but that isn’t what makes health care unaffordable. What makes it that way is the prices every entity in the “health care provider chain” charges for whatever they do or make. All those prices are hidden, no one will tell anyone what they are, let alone explain them in terms of “mark-ups on true cost,” they get bundled together into unfathomable generalities and “totals” that are “negotiated” with “insurance companies” who take their cut and “pass their costs” on to consumers in the form of a monthly lifetime payment that is second only to their mortgage.

      The quickest way to make health care affordable would be to drop insurance companies out of the equation and let consumers deal directly with health care providers. That would be insane, of course – too much “dislocation,” etc. – but that would do it faster than anything else would.

      Anyway… You may be right about the ACA not making health care affordable, but that isn’t because of the ACA.

  4. Submitted by Jim Camery on 06/04/2015 - 08:47 am.

    People are missing a big footnote on this insurance thing

    It isn’t that all plans went up 54%. Only those plans that rose by more than 10% had to report what they want to change to. The 54% is for the policies that increased by more than 10%. And the beauty of the exchange is that policy holders in a plan with a big spike can just change their policy.

  5. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 06/04/2015 - 09:30 am.

    “And, of course, whatever price increases occur will be blamed on the ACA and MNSure.”

    Did you read the article, Bill? The price increases are directly attributable to Obamacare and MNSure. Sorry, but there it is.

  6. Submitted by Thomas Anderson on 06/04/2015 - 11:30 am.

    Math challenged

    I suggest you check your math in the cold case murder story. You make it sound like Cameron was only 12 years old.

    • Submitted by Robert Ryan on 06/04/2015 - 01:17 pm.

      The math is right – dates are wrong

      From another news story in the Duluth media it looks like the murder occurred about 28 years ago, making cameron about 16 at the time of the murder.

      • Submitted by Thomas Anderson on 06/04/2015 - 02:14 pm.

        Try again

        Olsen’s article states the murder occurred in 1987 and that Cameron was 16 at that time. Lambert’s comment is that it took 32 years. Bad math not incorrect dates.

  7. Submitted by Bill Kahn on 06/04/2015 - 11:47 am.

    Dinosaurs did not get it either and health insurance companies will go extinct if they don’t offer some real deals. Health care will be nationalized before they can do anything about it because ACA, their baby, is going to die at their hands.

  8. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 06/04/2015 - 12:33 pm.

    Au contraire

    …Mr. Yankovic. Several million people who had no health coverage at all before the ACA became law now have at least minimal health care coverage, and at rates far lower than what they’d have been able to manage in the individual, private market – if they could have secured coverage in the private market at all.

    True, simply having health insurance doesn’t automatically make one healthier, but “…no one is getting any healthier” is not a substantive argument, it’s a whine.

  9. Submitted by Moira Heffron on 06/04/2015 - 01:11 pm.

    West St. Paul children’s intoxication and injuries

    Brian Lambert, your “rollin’ with yer homies” comment about the intoxication and injuries suffered by those children, as reported by Ms. Chazin, is offensive and uncalled for. It appears clear that these children were abused by their stepfather and intervention is surely called for. Your comment is something I might expect to see from some snarky social media poster looking to inflame and attract attention.

  10. Submitted by Gerald Abrahamson on 06/04/2015 - 01:43 pm.

    It has been a long time coming….

    I tried to buy health insurance from BC/BS 30 years ago. They refused coverage and returned my initial premium. No major health expenses since then, just the usual checkups and stuff. The only times I had healthcare insurance was when I had a job that offered it–because it was always a group policy. Never could get an individual policy, only covered when working (or a COBRA extension). The industry has had many decades to prepare, and they failed to do so. Time to go UHC.

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