Feb 6, 2018 - Health

Insurers want help from Congress — and fast

Blue Cross Blue Shield building

Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower. Photo: Raymond Boyd / Getty Images

Insurance companies are leaning hard on Congress to pass new reinsurance funding, hoping lawmakers might even take up such a measure this week as part of yet another short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown.

How it works: Reinsurance directly compensates insurance companies for some of their most expensive claims, so they don’t have to make up for those costs by raising everyone’s premiums.

  • The Blues like the reinsurance bill from Rep. Ryan Costello, largely because it includes some "parameters" for states to follow if they don’t have an existing policy infrastructure in place — or time to set one up — to administer a reinsurance program.

What they're saying:

  • The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association told a group of reporters yesterday that it thinks next year’s premiums are set to rise by an average of roughly 13%, thanks to normal increases in medical costs plus the repeal of the individual mandate.
  • But those projected premiums would fall by an average of 17% if Congress creates a new reinsurance program, and another 10% of it funds the ACA’s cost-sharing subsidies, BCBSA said. (These are estimates for a middle-of-the-road “silver” plan — the policies where the cost-sharing payments make the biggest difference.)

The odds: Reinsurance has bipartisan support. Getting it done this week is asking a lot.

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