VHC providers aim to hike rates by next year - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

VHC providers aim to hike rates by next year

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The two insurance providers participating in Vermont Health Connect, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont and MVP Health Care, submitted their rate premium requests to the Green Mountain Care Board and both are asking for significant hikes.

Joy Limoge, a small business owner requires an EPI pen for a medical condition, but she says after signing up for Vermont Health Connect with Blue Cross Blue Shield, her prescription price went up by more than $250.

"People aren't going for check-ups like they used to because they don't want to reach that deductible or pay out-of-pocket costs it's just so much worse than it was before," said Limoge.

And now both insurance providers participating in Vermont Health Connect are asking the Green Mountain Care Board to raise rates for 2015.

Blue Cross Blue Shield, who serves around 58,000 Vermonters through the exchange, requested an average 9.8 percent increase and MVP Health Care, who covers a much smaller 23,000 customers wants an average 15.4 percent hike.

But the leader of the Green Mountain Care Board says there are a few things to keep in mind before panicking. Like the fact that these numbers are merely averages and they may not get approved.

"In all of the rates that we've reviewed since I've been chair of the Green Mountain Care Board you know we have at times adjusted rates because we disagree with the carrier. I don't know what will happen here, but we have a great group of people and will dive in," said Al Gobielle.

Gobielle says affordability for customers is one of the main factors they will be taking into consideration and he says Vermont was already involved in health care reform before the Affordable Care Act even went into effect.

"A lot of it was made for states that are not as advanced as Vermont is," said Gobielle.

But for some small business owners like Limoge, the change is frustrating.

"It's going to crush small businesses, it's going to crush individuals, it's just not sustainable," said Limoge.

Gobielle is also a small business owner who says health care expenses have been going up long before the Affordable Care Act and that's part of the reason he joined the Green Mountain Care Board.

"Medical inflation and hyperinflation health care is something that small business like mine and individuals have faced for years," said Gobielle.

The Governor’s office says that rate hike requests in Vermont are not as high as what other states are seeing. In Arizona, two companies are asking for double digit increases, one at 25 and a half percent. The Green Mountain Care Board has until September 2 to make a decision.

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