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Insurers seek double-digit price increases for 2018

BEND — Health insurers in Oregon are seeking double-digit price increases for 2018, saying it's because of the sicker-than-expected customers that became eligible under the Affordable Care Act.

The proposed increases are not quite as steep as they've been in recent years, The Bulletin newspaper of Bend reported.

Companies are seeking to raise premiums on their individual market policies by between 6.9 percent and 21.8 percent. The prices on those policies went up by an average of 27 percent for 2017 and 23 percent in 2016.

In public filings, carriers reported their members were more expensive than expected in 2016, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, for example, spent 9 percent more than expected on its members in 2016, and profits were down 7 percent. The company seeks to raise premiums by nearly 19 percent.

Similarly, Providence reported spending 24 percent more on members' medical care than expected. Profit was down 18 percent. The company wants to raise premiums by an average of almost 21 percent.

PacificSource Health Plans has the least-expensive request, seeking a 6.9 percent average premium increase across its individual market policies.

State regulators will review the proposed rates and seek public comment. Final decisions will be posted July 20.

Roughly 218,000 Oregon residents are covered under individual market policies, about 5 percent of the state's population. Most people with commercial insurance are covered by employers.