Health exchange insurance rates coming down | Local News

Health insurance premiums will fall in 2021 for New Mexicans enrolled in beWellnm, the state’s

Health insurance premiums will fall in 2021 for New Mexicans enrolled in beWellnm, the state’s Obama-era insurance exchange for workers who aren’t offered health coverage through employers and those who are self-employed.

The New Mexico Office of Superintendent of Insurance reported Tuesday that “silver” plans — those ranked in the middle category — will drop an average of 8.1 percent to 13.5 percent next year.

Consumers can choose from three levels of plans offered by five insurance carriers participating in the exchange.

Santa Fe has the lowest decreases among the state’s five regions at 6.7 percent for bronze plans, 8.1 percent for silver plans and 7.2 percent for higher-level gold plans.

The premium costs for a 40-year-old in Santa Fe will decrease by an average of $21.78 a month for a bronze policy, for a monthly rate of $296.94; $34.30 a month for a silver policy, for a rate of $387.41; and $30.72 for a gold policy, with a rate of $396.48, according to a news release.

“The competitiveness in the marketplace is higher than ever,” said Colin Baillio, a project manager in the Office of Superintendent of Insurance.

New Mexico has never had five insurance companies on its exchange, he added.

The state’s lowest monthly health exchange premiums are in the Albuquerque area and are about $45 to $60 less per month than those in Santa Fe and Las Cruces.

“It’s a pretty dramatic drop,” said Gabriella Rivera, communications and policy analyst at Health Action New Mexico, a health policy and consumer advocacy nonprofit. “Even a small 1 [percent] or 2 percent drop can be dramatic. That puts insurance in reach of a lot more people. With this, gold and silver plans are in reach for a whole lot more people.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico and Molina Health Care of New Mexico, which have been with beWellnm since the beginning in 2014, will return, as will True Health New Mexico. Western Sky Community Care and Friday Health Plans will be new to beWellnm. New Mexico Health Connections dropped out of the exchange.

“Health Connections customers who do not sign up for a plan will be assigned to a comparable plan on the marketplace so that they do not become

uninsured,” the news release stated.

Open enrollment for 2021 runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 at beWellnm.com.

New Mexico has about 42,000 people enrolled in beWellnm, a number that could increase this year with nearly 90,000 people receiving unemployment benefits.

“A lot of food service workers are key users of the exchange,” Baillio said. “We do have more independent businesses and people who are self-employed. This is an important market for them.”

About 77 percent of people who purchased marketplace health coverage qualified for financial assistance on premium payments based on income levels. A family of four earning $40,000 can qualify for financial assistance through a federal tax credit to cover up to 86 percent of premium costs, Baillio said.

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