Consumers Council questions proposed health insurance rate hikes

The Consumers Council of Missouri has completed a review of proposed 2018 health insurance rates on the Missouri Health Insurance Exchange. This marks the first year the Missouri Department of Insurance has the authority to review rates and consumers are calling for the department to deem the rates hikes “unreasonable.”

3 companies will be offering insurance on the exchange in Missouri in 2018: Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Cigna), Healthy Alliance Life Insurance Company (Anthem) and Celtic Insurance Company, a subsidiary of Centene (Celtic). While one of these companies, Celtic, is new to the Missouri marketplace, the other 2 have filed for significant increases over last year’s premiums.

Cigna’s proposed rate increases will affect approximately 84,000 Missourians and proposed increases are significant varying from 17 percent to 73 percent with an average increase of 35 percent. Anthem has proposed a rate increase which will impact approximately 116,000 people in Missouri. Proposed increases vary between 30 percent and 47 percent, with an average of 42 percent. Index rates show Celtic with the lowest at $354.48, Cigna with $476.44 and Anthem with the highest at $841.24.

The State of Missouri allows insurers to redact, or obscure, key components of rate filings. This makes analyzing justifications for rate increases nearly impossible in some cases and contributes to a lack of consumer trust. 

A major driver in rate increase, annual medical cost trend, was redacted from the Cigna filling entirely and in the Anthem filing was assumed at 13.3 percent which is 3 times higher than the 4.3 percent generally accepted Milliman Medical Index trend. 

Notably, neither Cigna nor Anthem took into account a number of regulatory changes included in the Market Stabilization Rule which the Department of Health and Human Services adopted in an effort to improve the risk pool, promote stability in the individual market and reduce cost. 

In summary, the filings include several unreasonable assumptions as well as a redaction of much of the data needed to properly analyze the findings. Therefore, Consumers Council of Missouri urges the department to exercise its authority under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 376.465.10(4) and deem both Cigna and Healthy Alliance rates unreasonable absent further justification.

A full review of both filings may be found at

Cara Spencer is executive director of Consumers Council of Missouri and 20th Ward alderwoman in St. Louis.

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