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Blue Cross Blue Shield Reduces Rate Hike Request

The biggest health insurance company in the state says it doesn’t need as big of a rate increase as originally thought for its individual Affordable Care Act plans. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina announced Wednesday it was reducing its request.

The insurance company says because of new information, it’s now asking state regulators for an average premium increase of about 14 percent. It had previously requested a 23 percent price hike for 2018. More than 500,000 people across the state bought insurance plans with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina on the marketplace.

Blue Cross has sought double-digit rate increases since the first year Affordable Care Act-compliant insurance plans began being sold on a federal marketplace in 2014. The company increased prices by an average of 24 percent this year, 32.5 percent in 2016 and 13.5 percent in 2015. Blue Cross is the only insurer offering ACA policies in 95 out of North Carolina's 100 counties this year. 

The insurer said in a statement it is now better able to predict medical costs because the individual market has become less volatile. But, there is still a great deal of uncertainty about the future of the ACA. Congress tried and failed multiple times this year to repeal and replace the law.

Cigna also offers plans through the marketplace for five counties near Raleigh. It asked for an average rate increase of 32 percent for next year.