Health premium rates may increase: insurance company

CALVO’s Select Care Health Plans said the rate increases proposed by the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. will result in higher premium rates.

“Medical trend is expected to rise faster in the CNMI than in previous years mainly due to pressures in the cost for services. We anticipate premium rates to increase significantly if the proposed rate increases by CHCC are allowed to go forward,” Calvo’s Health Plan Administrator Frank J. Campillo said in a letter to CHCC Board Chairwoman Lauri Ogumoro.

Campillo noted that the proposed increases exceed 100 percent in many areas and are substantially higher in others.

“For instance, a semi-private room and board increases to $2,800 as opposed to the previous rate of $1,090, which translates into a 156.88 percent rate increase,” Campillo said, adding that CHCC’s rate increases will have a profound impact on the cost of health insurance due to the nature of availability and delivery of medical services in the CNMI.

He said any increase in CHCC fees will directly affect premium rates since there is no leverage to access other providers.

“The proposed rates only affect the commercially insured population as other parts of the insured pool, including Medicare, Medicaid and indigent, will not be affected,” Campillo added.

He said CHCC’s plan to increase its rates may result in reduced health insurance offerings and the possibility of members not getting health insurance anymore.

The insurance firm asked CHCC to implement reasonable rates.

“We are looking forward to working with the leadership at CHCC to continue improving the health system in the CNMI, and implement sustainable and reasonable fees,” Campillo said.

In an interview, Ogumoro said there is 120-day comment period for health insurance firms to present their concerns.

“Almost all the insurance companies on island and Guam have shared their concerns about the increase in rates. We will take all of these things in consideration. We didn’t get enough appropriation from the [CNMI] government to run the hospital. We have to find ways to make ends meet.”

She reiterated that the board will consider everybody’s concerns.

“They are trying to point out it is a great increase. We haven’t had an increase for five years. The cost of doing business is going up,” she added.

One of the reasons for CHCC’s plan to increase its rates is to offer more competitive salaries for doctors and nurses, Ogumoro said. “If we don’t have the funds to increase the salary, how can we keep the good and qualified people that we have? They have to understand the bind that we are into.”

She said the rates will take effect after the 120-day comment period that started on Oct. 4. “After the comment period then the final rates will go into effect but they may be changed,” she added.

She said the insurance companies are against the increase in rates “but they also have the ability to negotiate the rates with the hospital for the people that they insure.”

She added, “We have 120 days to negotiate with everybody. We have to move forward and find money to support the hospital. We want to provide quality, safe patient care and if we don’t have the funding to do that. Where will we go?”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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