Director's Message Regarding Health Insurance Premiums for 2018

Open enrollment will be available from November 1, 2017 through December 15, 2017 for health insurance coverage commencing January 1, 2018.  Here are a few things you can expect when purchasing or renewing health insurance this year.

In Arizona, the overall average Marketplace (“on-exchange”) Plan Year 2018 rates have stabilized with only slight changes from last year’s premium rates.  This is significant for our market after sustaining large premium increases in 2017.  This premium rate stabilization gives us hope that more insurers may consider entering our market for Plan Year 2019. Unfortunately, like last year, Arizonan’s health insurance plan choices are limited.  Only two insurance carriers will be issuing tax subsidized major medical policies on the exchange in 2018.  One insurer will be offering health plans in Maricopa and Pima counties, and the other insurer will be offering plans in the other 13 counties.  Additionally, we are down to a total of 4 health insurers offering individual plans off-exchange for 2018. Visit our Health insurance rate page to see a list of plans and premium averages by county. 

Additionally, you can view detailed information, compare plans, and complete the enrollment process at the federal Marketplace website at https://www.healthcare.gov.

As you may have read, the federal government announced that it will stop reimbursing insurers for Cost Share Reductions (CSR) associated with major medical policies issued to Marketplace customers that meet the federal poverty level criteria.  This announcement did not result in any changes to the 2018 Arizona Marketplace plan rates for Open Enrollment.

Families with children should be aware that the federal government made some changes to the “child” premium rate calculations which will result in higher premiums for children.  This will have the greatest impact on families that do not qualify for the premium tax credit.  For an explanation of how rates for children will be changing, please read our Frequently Asked Questions document.

Under Arizona state law, the Department of Insurance is not given the legal authority to approve or disapprove the major medical health insurance rates filed with us.  Instead, the Department’s role is to review the rate filings and confirm that valid, detailed financial and actuarial justification (as required by federal and state law) is provided and any change in the rate is found reasonable by these standards.  In order to perform that review, the Department engages independent actuaries to scrutinize the rate filings in depth to confirm compliance with the laws and regulations.  You can read the insurers’ justification of their rate increases and a narrative describing the data and assumptions that the insurer used to develop its rate (a consumer justification) by visiting https://filingaccess.serff.com/sfa/home/AZ.   Visitors can also see a list of all rate change filings (On and Off Marketplace, Individual and Small Group) on the Department’s Health Insurance Rate Information webpage.

Health Insurance Telemarketers Annoy; Pose Fraud Risks

Phoenix, AZ—The Arizona Department of Insurance (ADOI) wants to make citizens aware of scams involving aggressive telemarketers attempting to sell health insurance plans and, in some cases, attempting to gain personal and financial information possibly for criminal purposes.

The ADOI has received complaints from people who received multiple phone calls, robocalls, and text messages claiming to be from the National Health Enrollment Center, the Healthcare Enrollment Center and from Healthcare.gov. Some people report that they were contacted multiple times a day, sometimes from different phone numbers, despite requests to be placed on the companies' do-not-call lists. Additionally, some people report having been asked to provide health insurance enrollment information, including such information as address, date of birth, social security number, and personal health information that, in the wrong hands, could be used in identity theft or other fraud schemes.

Arizona citizens who have received persistent phone calls or text messages from these or other callers attempting to sell them health insurance are encouraged to file a complaint with:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Arizona Department of Insurance Consumer Protection Division

  • Visit https://insurance.az.gov/consumers
  • Or call the ADOI’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 602-364-2499, or 1-800-325-2548 if calling within Arizona but outside Maricopa County.

We can all take steps to avoid becoming victims of fraud.

  • Never provide someone who calls you with your bank account number, your social security number, your credit card number, or your personal health information. If you are asked to provide this information, hang up.
  • Research the insurance agent and insurance company you are considering using by finding their license information through the ADOI’s License Search webpage (https://insurance.az.gov/license-search), and use contact information in the license record to contact them. Be skeptical and do research.
  • For information about insurance available from Health Insurance Marketplace, visit the Healthcare.gov website or call Healthcare.gov directly at 1-800-318-2596. The Arizona Department of Insurance is a state agency dedicated to protecting Arizona citizens and businesses by promoting a safe, strong, innovative and competitive insurance marketplace.

The Arizona Department of Insurance is a state agency dedicated to protecting Arizona citizens and businesses by promoting a safe, strong, innovative and competitive insurance marketplace.

Arbitration for Surprise Healthcare Bills Will Be Available SOON

Phoenix, AZ - A new state law is going into effect that will, under certain circumstances, allow a health plan enrollee who receives health care treatment on or after January 1, 2019, to request arbitration of a so-called “surprise out-of-network, or SOON, bill.”  

A SOON billing happens when a health care provider who is not on contract with the health insurance company (also referred to as an “out-of-network provider”) bills a patient for expenses that are not covered by the patient's insurance. The new law applies when patients go to an in-network hospital or facility, perhaps believing the medical services would be covered by their health insurance plans, but later get bills from medical professionals or medical equipment suppliers who do not have contracts under their health insurance plans.  If the bill is $1,000 or more after the enrollee pays cost-sharing amounts (copayment, coinsurance and deductible), and if certain other conditions are met, the enrollee can ask the Arizona Department of Insurance (“AZDOI”) to schedule an arbitration for the bill so that the enrollee only has to pay cost-sharing amounts. 

The new law requires out-of-network health care providers to give information to enrollees in a disclosure notice a reasonable amount of time before treatment.  This way, in non-emergency circumstances, an enrollee can decide to delay treatment for a time when a health care provider contracted with the enrollee’s health insurer is available.   The law also says an enrollee is not required to sign the disclosure notice to obtain medical care, but if an enrollee signs the disclosure notice, the enrollee waives rights to the SOON billing arbitration process. 

To see if you are eligible for the SOON billing dispute resolution process, visit the AZDOI’s SOON Billing Dispute Resolution webpage at https://insurance.az.gov/soonbdr

The Arizona Department of Insurance, an agency of the State of Arizona, is responsible for the education and protection of insurance consumers and for oversight of the insurance industry in the state.

Regulatory Bulletin 2019-01

Use of Credits and Premium Rebates in the Health Insurance Market 

Arizona Sample Notice of Continuation Coverage (Mini-COBRA)

Pursuant to ARS § 20-2330, a health benefits plan issued or renewed after December 31, 2018, must allow an enrollee and any qualified dependent to continue coverage after a qualifying event.  The law requires a small employer (with an average of at least 1 but fewer than 20 employees) to notify an enrollee in writing of the right of the enrollee and any qualified dependents to continue coverage under the employer's health benefits plan upon an enrolee's qualifying event.  Pursuant to Subsection C of the law, the Department has prepared a sample notice of coverage continuation form and is making the sample available on its website.  A small employer that uses, properly completes, and timely issues the Department's form is presumed to satisfy notification requirements.  On January 23, 2019, the Department uploaded a new version of the form.

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