Berlin, Vermont – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont (Blue Cross) is lowering premiums in 2022. Compared with last year, Blue Cross will lower overall health insurance premiums collected by 1.5%. The small group market rates will be reduced by 6.7%. The individual rates have a corresponding increase of 4.7% which will be offset for most Vermont families by the recent increase in federal premium subsidies. Individuals and families purchasing Blue Cross Qualified Health Plans who direct enroll through Vermont Health Connect will see their monthly premiums after subsidies decrease on average of at least 3.3%. These Vermonters are encouraged to enroll directly with Vermont Health Connect as soon as possible to receive these premium reductions.
COVID-19 testing, vaccine, and treatment costs will continue to be covered by Blue Cross with no impact to premiums until it becomes part of the normal seasonal health cycle. Blue Cross provided $11.9 million of direct rate relief in 2022 through administrative efficiencies and by keeping the costs of the pandemic out of premiums. The Department of Financial Regulation, in an exhaustive examination of the financial impact of the pandemic on Vermont’s health insurance marketplace, verified that Blue Cross has not overcharged our Affordable Care Act customers. The temporary reduction in medical care in 2020 was exceeded by emergency health coverage expansions for pharmaceuticals and telehealth, the continued prevailing costs of specialty and maintenance drugs, the cost of COVID-19 testing and treatment, the return of regular medical care, and other factors.
This 2022 rate reduction is possible because of Blue Cross cost containment initiatives. The sharp increases in specialty pharmaceutical prices and hospital budgets are driving underlying increases in the range of 7%. Our efforts to contain costs, primarily though our innovative Vermont Blue Rx prescription drug benefit service, are largely offset by the combined drug and provider price increases. Vermont Blue Rx will improve the consumer experience, drive better health outcomes and lower costs for members, providers, and employers. We provide our customers a vast array of health services, cost-saving initiatives, care coordination, and prescription drug management along with active participation in health care reform. All of these benefits come with very low administrative costs.
Individual members and families who may qualify for the expanded federal premium subsidies must switch from direct purchase of their health insurance from Blue Cross to enrollment through Vermont Health Connect (VHC) in order to be eligible for the new benefit. Blue Cross is collaborating with the state to help our members make this important transition.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is Vermont’s only local, not-for-profit health plan. For over 30 years, the company has been enhancing the health and well-being of the Vermonters by offering innovative plans to individuals, seniors and businesses. Our employees are dedicated to developing new ways to support high quality care and programs and events that promote health and wellness. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
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