Vermont is first state to unveil insurance exchange rates

Vermont has become the first state to release proposed rates for health plans sold through its health insurance exchange. Despite insurers' and Republicans' predictions of rate shock, the premiums are in line with current rates.

The two insurers--Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont and MVP Healthcare--that are participating in the state-run online marketplace, called Vermont Health Connect, said the average cost for individual coverage would range from about $365 to about $609, according to the rate filing. The proposed rates don't take into account any federal subsidies that some consumers would receive under the reform law.

"We are feeling good," Mark Larson, commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access, told the Burlington Free Press. "Given the fear that many had that rates would jump substantially, it appears that isn't the case."

Blue Cross President Don George confirmed that his company's filing "establishes rates for most Vermonters that are comparable to those they pay today," to the Free Press.

However, Vermont might not single-handedly represent the reform law's overall impact because the state already requires insurers to meet many of the law's provisions, including limits on age rating and bans on denying consumers with pre-existing conditions. As such, Blue Cross and MVP didn't have to significantly change their existing policies, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Now that the rates have been submitted, Vermont officials will analyze the proposed premiums before officially approving them. "I think the fact that (the rates) came in at what appears to be a fairly reasonable level is encouraging, but they will be subject to a lot of scrutiny over the next several months," Anya Rader Wallack, chair of the Green Mountain Care Board, told VT Digger.

To learn more:
- here's the rate filing
- read the Burlington Free Press article
- see the Wall Street Journal article
- check out the VT Digger article

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