Blue Cross and Blue Shield of N.C. said Friday it has received approval of an average 2.8% rate increase for individual federal health insurance plans.
The permission was provided by the N.C. Insurance Department for federal Affordable Care Act plans for 2020, also known as Obamacare.
Individual rates vary based on location, age, subsidy amount and plan. Open enrollment for ACA plans again begins Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15.
Blue Cross projects that its plans will cover more than 475,000 North Carolinians in 2022.
Blue Cross NC said a regional breakdown of the rates "will be available closer to the start of ACA open enrollment."
For example, for the 2021 plan year, Blue Cross said there would be an overall 1% rate decline statewide, but an average 6.3% rate decrease for the Winston-Salem metropolitan statistical area.
Individual premiums will be available in October. Premium amounts will depend in part on federal premium subsidy levels, which will be available Nov. 1. The subsidies are available for customers with household incomes between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level.
Blue Cross said the statewide rate increase for 2022 represents the balancing act between higher prescription drug costs and medical expenses for ACA participants, and lower costs gained from the shift toward value-based care.
The insurer said that Blue Premier, its value-based care program, has generated cost savings and quality improvements totaling more than $300 million in its first two years.
"Our move to value-based care continues to positively impact our members, even as health care costs rise," Tunde Sotunde, Blue Cross NC's chief executive, said in a statement.
"While the average ACA rate for individuals will reflect a modest increase in 2022, the last three years Blue Cross NC lowered rates for individual ACA customers.
"This resulted in a total reduction of over $380 million since 2018 and a savings of $35 million in health care costs for 2021 alone."
Blue Cross NC said it continues to identify opportunities to optimize collaboration with providers.
For example, the insurer announced in June an investment in a joint venture to support independent physicians in North Carolina and enable them to focus more on high-quality, cost-effective patient care while also offering practices the ability to grow more sustainably as value-based care expands.