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8 Minnesota health insurers seek hefty rate hikes for some plans

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Eight Minnesota health insurers are proposing double-digit rate increases for some of their individual and small group insurance plans in 2016, MPR News reports, with requests ranging as high as 74 percent.

Under federal rules, insurers who want to raise rates by 10 percent or more have to make those proposals public months before they would take effect in October. It's part of a process that gives regulators time to review the proposals.

For individual and small group plans, those proposals were published on a federal website Wednesday.

The companies seeking big hikes include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, which would raise the cost of some plans more than 50 percent.

MPR says Gov. Mark Dayton called it "outrageous" that some insurers want such big increases, given that health care costs are climbing about 3 percent a year.

Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman promised a "thorough and rigorous review" to see if the proposed increases are justified.

The proposals posted Wednesday do not affect people who buy their insurance through a large employer or a government program.

The Star Tribune says about 6 percent of Minnesotans use non-group plans. Even so, an estimated 171,000 people would be affected by Blue Cross Blue Shield's proposed hikes, which average 54 percent, the newspaper reports.

State Rep. Greg Davids, a Republican from Preston, calls the proposed increases a sign that the Affordable Care Act and MNsure are not working.

A New York Times health care blogger notes that last year many big rate requests around the country were amended after they were reviewed by regulators.

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