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Health Insurers See Utilization Bouncing Back in 2022

MHE PublicationMHE August 2021
Volume 31
Issue 8

It's rate-setting season for insurers, although the full picture for 2022 premiums won’t emerge for some months yet.

It is rate-setting season for insurers, although the full picture for 2022 premiums won’t emerge for some months yet. But in early July, Sabrina Corlette, J.D., founder and co-director of the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University, got a jump on what insurers might be charging by reviewing early filings for the individual market in Washington, D.C.; Maine; Oregon; Vermont; and Washington.

Corlette found a wide range of possible rate requests: from a 0.1% rate decrease by Providence Health Plan in Oregon to a proposed 28.98% increase by Premera Blue Cross in Washington.

Corlette said in a blog post for the center that the filings indicate that insurers expect utilization of healthcare services in 2022 to return to pre-pandemic levels and that some expect even higher use because of pent-up demand. Providence Health Plan, for example, has included a 7.2% “COVID-19 rebound adjustment,” Corlette reported. Insurers also are bracing for costs associated with COVID-19 long haulers and the worsening of chronic conditions because of delayed or canceled care in 2020 and this year (see our story on page 31).

The filings reveal a range of opinions on the effects of the pandemic on claims, according to Corlette’s review. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care in Maine is projecting that vaccine boosters will add 1% to 2022 claims costs, whereas Maine’s Community Health Options sees its COVID-19-related costs as decreasing by 0.5% because vaccination is less expensive than testing.

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