Nebraska's only ObamaCare insurer seeks double-digit rate increase

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In Nebraska, the only insurance provider left offering individual plans on the Affordable Care Act exchanges announced Tuesday it will seek an average rate increase of nearly 17%, while some rates could rise by more than 50%.

Minneapolis-based Medica unveiled its proposed 2018 rates as it sought approval from Nebraska state regulators. The company said a corresponding increase in federal subsidies would protect roughly 80 percent of consumers in the Nebraska market from having to pay more.

"We recognize that double-digit rate increases are not sustainable," said Geoff Bartsh, Medica's vice president of individual and family business. "Fortunately, the vast majority of Nebraska consumers are eligible for subsidies to help with these prices."

Bartsh said Medica will work to bring "rational prices" to the state and ensure the market remains stable over the long-term.

Medica spokesman Greg Bury said the company covers about 36,000 Nebraska residents right now, but that number is projected to surge to 90,000 next year.

Medica is the only insurer offering individual policies in Nebraska that comply with the federal health care law's rules. The law requires insurers to provide coverage for maternity care, routine checkups, hospital stays and other services.

Two other insurers, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska and Aetna Health, announced this year that they would drop out of Affordable Care Act-compliant plans for 2018. The companies cited multimillion dollar losses and uncertainty in the markets as reasons for withdrawing.

Medica outlined several scenarios in which consumers in Omaha could see their rates increase by 57 percent, before accounting for subsidies.

The requested rate hike comes as uncertainty over funding for cost-sharing reduction subsidies rattles the industry and lawmakers. The Senate Health Committee is set to begin hearings on stabilizing the individual insurance marketplace in September.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.