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Public Comments
Read comments submitted on this filing.
CareFirst - BlueChoice
I have purchased PPO medical coverage from CareFirst in the individual market since 2014. Every year, the choices have narrowed, while the remaining choices have jumped in price and out-of-pocket cap from year-to-year. As an example, my monthly premium for the same Bronze policy with a 6,650 cap increased from 777 in 2017 to 1,274 in 2018. This is a 64 percent increase in one year. I am not eligible for any subsidy and am a disabled cancer patient not yet on Medicare. I cannot afford any further increase and urgently request a better way like reinsurance to keep my ACA coverage at the current or lower monthly cost, preferably with a much lower out-of-pocket cap. Thank you.
    Submitted By: Kristi SjoholmSierchio    Location: Joppa MD    Date: 5/7/2018

Documents: None   
This is an outrage. I am paying more than 1250 per month for my spouse and me. This is a very significant portion of my take home pay and triple what I paid as part of a group plan. There is no way we are getting the benefit for which we are paying. This system is already punishing people for having a little success and earning a higher wage, now you want even more? I will need a second job just to pay some of my other bills if the increase is approved. I would like to see what pay increases and bonuses for CFBCBS execs come from this.
    Submitted By: Amy Rubin    Location: Waldorf MD    Date: 5/7/2018

Documents: None   
The cost of our family insurance plan continues to skyrocket as does everyone else. The amount of increases are unsustainable for consumers. From 2017 to 2018 in order for my premium to remain the same then I had to increase my deductible from 1,000 per person to 6,650. We have a young child so I opted for the best coverage and to keep my deductible at 1,000 per person. In order to do this our premium increased more than 300 per month. I'm now paying 1,265 per month for health insurance which is only 18 per month less than our home mortgage payment. This is horrible and another 18 percent increase would be devastating to not only my family but nearly everyone in this State.
    Submitted By: P Whitby    Location: Centreville MD    Date: 5/8/2018

Documents: None   
The MD Insurance Administration needs to put an end to these rate increases. Self-employed residents on the Eastern Shore have only one choice in health care on the Individual Market. Every year our options have dwindled and this year CareFirst is the only option. My family of three pays over 1600 per month with a 13,100 deductible... that's over 32,000 a year out of our pocket before anything is covered. Our monthly premium has gone up over 80 percent in the last two years. It's time you stopped the madness and deny these outrageous increases.
    Submitted By: K Northrop    Location: Queenstown MD    Date: 5/9/2018

Documents: None   
I have had to use the exchange for coverage for my 4 year old son. The prices are way to high and so are the deductibles. Its insane the amount we pay per month to have so little coverage and an extremely high deductible. Something needs to change and it needs to change quickly. We cannot afford any additional rate hikes in 2019. Insurance Commissioners need to put a stop to this.
    Submitted By: Erin Moyer    Location: Frederick MD    Date: 6/6/2018

Documents: None   
CareFirst raised rates over 50% last year. As a self-employed mother of three children, we had no choice but to go to the highest deductible plan in order to maintain any semblance of affordability. Still, health insurance is only slightly less than our mortgage payment and at this point, is barely more than catastrophic coverage. It is shameful that CareFirst continues to raise rates at this high percentages annually. I wonder, how high of an income are their highest level executives making? Like the previous commenters, we too had to increase our deductibles from $1000 to $6500 per person, $13,500 per family with a $1500 per month premium. $32,000 out of pocket to get anything covered. It is criminal.
    Submitted By: Kimberly Glassman    Location: Gaithersburg MD    Date: 6/7/2018

Documents: None   
This is unfair it keeps jumping higher and higher each year. I now pay almost $900.00 each month for horrible insurance coverage. $6500.00 deductible before it pays For any sick coverage. I can't even go to my regular Doctor. No prescription until i meet my huge deductible. I'm retired my income doesn't increase. I will be forced to go without insurance. Why can't we ever get a break from unfair rate increases. If i haven't made a claim in 4 years why don't i get a break
    Submitted By: Beverly Long    Location: Chaptico MD    Date: 6/21/2018

Documents: None   
I will not be able to attend the commission's planning meeting for insurance premium increase. I need to be at work to earn the $900.00 per month and money for the $6500.00 deductible. Please help us. I am currently a member of Care First BlueChoice. Never wished to be older until I saw Medicare so close in sight.
    Submitted By: Mary Kistler    Location: Baltimore MD    Date: 7/3/2018

Documents: None   
The proposed rate increases by Care First are draconian. While it is recognized that the Trump Administration has done everything possible to undermine the Affordable Care Act, that doesn't justify the magnitude of the proposed rate requests by Care First. Further, it is noted that Maryland has enacted legislation to create a State reinsurance fund. Care First's rate requests include no consideration for the support of this fund in claims exposure for the company. Care First should be required to recalculate their requested rates in light of the expected impact of the reinsurance fund on their claims exposure. However, even without the reinsurance fund, the proposed rates are exorbitant and will force Maryland residents to choose between food and health insurance. Their proposed rates should be significantly reduced.
    Submitted By: Harvey Blank    Location: Gaithersburg MD    Date: 7/4/2018

Documents: None   
Please see the attached comments from Consumer Health First
    Submitted By: Beth Sammis    Location: Baltimore MD    Date: 7/6/2018

             Consumer Health First Comments for 2019
I have had individual health insurance since June 2000 and have weathered the changes before and after ACA. The rates went up every year whether I used the insurance or not. The Trump Administration wants ACA to fail however CareFirst wants rate increases that are outrageous. The choices are more limited and I do not qualify for subsidies. I currently pay $483 per month just for myself. I cannot afford this type of payment for much longer. I hope that the MIA will put a moratorium in place,deny their requests or limit it.
    Submitted By: Djenne Lindsey    Location: Glen Burnie MD    Date: 7/6/2018

Documents: None   
As a self employed breast cancer survivor who, prior to 2014, was told no health insurance issuer would ever insure me, regardless of how long past my diagnosis I was, thus forcing my husband to continue working at his job past his 70th birthday just to keep me covered, I remain grateful for the ACA, which enabled me to enter the health insurance market. I'd note that, apart from health insurance, most insurance policies only cover real catastrophes like car accidents or theft, house fires or robberies, etc. Health insurance, on the other hand, is a misnomer, as it covers routine medical visits and lab tests. Sort of like if your home insurance were to pay for your furnace inspection 2x a year. That aspect is part of what makes it so costly. The other big problem, of course, is the outrageous amounts that doctors, hospitals and labs charge at full retail. We all need to carry and pay for comprehensive medical coverage, not just catastrophic, so as to empower the insurers to negotiate reduced fees for all services. I get why BCBS and Kaiser are once again raising premiums, especially in light of the decision by Congress and Trump to scrap the individual mandate, but I am appalled by the recurring huge percentage increases year after year. I believe Maryland's insurance administration should be examining Kaiser's and BCBS's salary and bonus structures carefully and demanding some belt tightening, greater internal streamlining and cost efficiencies, instead of giving these giant corporations a carte blanche to spend as they please. Every time I see some expensive PR campaign by CareFirst, my blood about boils. Their requests for yet another double digit increase, when most insurers in other states are only seeking single digits, is outrageous and should not be approved. I'm already spending over 1500 out of pocket each month just to cover me and my 19 year old son with CareFirst, and between that and paying for college, there is nothing left over. We were particularly outraged at the huge jump in premiums for teens from 2017 to 2018, which is really penalizing families, particularly given the low rate of use of services by teens. I would also propose a different model of cost sharing than the one currently in use, where the insurers don't pay a penny till you've met a ridiculously high deductible. Instead, maybe raise the visit copays and lower the deductible. If I had to pay $50 every time I went to a specialist, it might alter my behavior. Doctors tend to routinely schedule followup visits every 6 to 12 months, such routine visits are their bread and butter. A higher copay would encourage folks not to go for routine followup, which most of the time is pro forma and accomplishes nothing of medical importance. Having said that, I would still urge the insurance administration not to approve yet another double digit increase in 2019. With reinsurance coming in, the insurers need to moderate their appetite for emptying our wallets.
    Submitted By: Nan W    Location: Silver Spring MD    Date: 7/6/2018

Documents: None   
We dropped my husbands health insurance in 2017. We could no longer pay premiums on a plan we couldn't afford to use if he got sick or injured. So for me the decision made by the commission will change nothing. The government defines affordability not the consumer. The individuals ability to pay, or even use the insurance is irrelevant. If the plan fits their definition of affordability, it is affordable. It's that simple, for them. So, rates will raise and more Marylanders will go without. The more who go without the greater likelihood our 'representatives' will listen. Or not. Because we, the uninsured have a purpose. We are the scapegoats, it's our fault rates go up and we must be punished. We will be fined, aka taxed, for the choice we make and though they will tell everyone it's a down payment, it's not. They collect the money upfront, for something you already know you cannot afford and then you must provide proof you deserve getting your down payment refunded. Either way, pay the premiums or pay the tax the health insurers and providers win,you do not. So please remain vigilant and when your representative pledges support for a Maryland mandate, raise your voice, use your vote but do not take it quietly. They changed the name, worst attempt at putting lipstick on a pig since 'right to work',so provide politicians cover for their vote. Do not accept the blame
    Submitted By: Susan Frangione    Location: Rockville MD    Date: 7/12/2018

Documents: None   
I continue to be outraged by these increase requests that far outpace inflation and wage increases. It is criminal that those that must participate in the individual market are compelled to carry the risk of the whole group which by design are the sicker patients among us. I feel that the increases are a tax that is not equally shared among my fellow Marylanders. I already pay more that $32000 per year for premiums. My rate has increased 25 per cent to 40 per cent every year since the ACA was implemented. This is unsustainable and an outrage. I hope that you can do something to lower these incredibly high rates.
    Submitted By: Stuart Varon    Location: Abell MD    Date: 7/18/2018

Documents: None   
These rates represent a 350% increase in my individual premium in the last 5 years, not taking into account that my deductible has increased 400%. You are pricing availability to the wealthy only, I am going to have to do without health insurance. Shame on you - represent us.
    Submitted By: Maureen Bagwell    Location: Cockeysville MD    Date: 7/26/2018

Documents: None   
Please see the attached comments from John Thompson
    Submitted By: John Thompson    Location: Walkersville MD    Date: 7/30/2018

             Comments from John Thompson
Please see the attached comments from the Office of the Attorney General.
    Submitted By: Patricia O'Connor    Location: Baltimore MD    Date: 8/17/2018

Hi. I started ACA as a restaurant server. When it started, my employer removed their lower cost insurance, so I had little choice but to opt for ACA, since the other option was far too expensive for me to afford, and I was able to enter ACA mid-year because their rules allowed it due to lack of opportunity through my employer - ACA said it was too expensive for me to be required to use. I was grateful for ACA then, and I at first thought it was a steal to pay for ACA for so little. The rate increases have been unsettling, however, and in a few years, I am paying close to what I was paying when I made more income as a restaurant manager when I opted for the higher cost insurance through my employer. That it has reached that point doesn't make a lot of sense after just a few years, and when I am making so much less money. Thank you for the opportunity to post a comment here. I appreciate those taking the time to read them. I hope the prices stabilize. I already live like a monk, have deferred seeing physicians due to cost at this point, which just makes matters worse, and more costly to insurers, over time. By stabilizing costs, you reduce this sort of behavior by consumers and avoid catastrophes both for insurers and consumers in the end. Thank you.
    Submitted By: Sebastian Arana    Location: Baltimore MD    Date: 8/17/2018

Documents: None   
My husband and I run a small consulting practice out of Bethesda MD. We pay for our own health insurance and as two people in their mid-fifties, we have some genetic health issues, but nothing very significant. However, our premium is extremely high and puts considerable financal strain on us. Sixteen years ago when we started our practice, our premium for a family of four was close to three dollars per month and now there are two of us and our premium is close to two thousand dollars per month. Please do not make the cost for health isurance prohibitive for us.
    Submitted By: Shabnam Afsah    Location: Bethesda MD    Date: 8/22/2018

Documents: None   
I appreciate the State of Maryland for the MHIP program and administration of the ACA statewide. I feel lucky to live in Maryland. I have been a consumer of individual health care insurance through the State exchange since 2009. I am a 50-something, single woman, a sole proprietor in family therapy. Without MHIP and ACA I would not be able to afford health insurance. I have been satisfied with the insurance and health care I have received from BCBS. Here are examples of the how the monthly premiums have increased for my policy, which has a $1000 deductible and is a BCBS PPO. 2009--$377 2012--$522 2014--$621 2016--$868 2017--$1,093 As you can see, the rates almost doubled in a 5-year period and tripled in an 8 year period. I doubt the rate increase reflects actual lockstep increases health care costs in the state. In addition, my income has been steady since 2009 when I started my business. The premiums have taken a higher and higher portion of my after-tax income, causing me to need a strict budget to make ends meet and to dip into savings to meet shortfalls. I am very afraid of the steep rate hikes facing us in 2019 and I may have to drop out of health insurance completely if the rates go up any further. I ask that the State of Maryland regulate the health care insurance marketplace vigorously and HOLD RATES DOWN from further increases. Affordable, accessible health care insurance for the health and well-being of the citizens of Maryland must come before company profits and executive pay. Respectfully, LE Sloan
    Submitted By: LE Sloan    Location: Glenn Dale MD    Date: 8/27/2018

Documents: None   
We, the residents of Maryland, do not seem to be getting any answers from the Insurance Commissioners as to why no stop is ever put in place to the endless steep health plan rate increases and concurrent service decreases. Can the Commissioners please respond truthfully to the requests for answers from everyone who has written comments year after year requesting an end to this debilitating financial insanity and healthcare crisis?
    Submitted By: Giselle Hersh    Location: Rockville MD    Date: 9/13/2018

Documents: None   
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