There has been much discussion this year about premium increases for those who receive health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

ACA premium increases are approved by state insurance boards, and in 13 states, including Maine, the approved 2017 premium increases were higher than those requested by insurance companies.

For example, in Maine, Anthem requested an average increase of 14.1 percent, and was approved for an 18 percent increase; this will impact almost 16,000 subscribers.

Community Health Options requested an average increase of 22.8 percent, and was approved for a 25.5 percent increase; this will impact about 58,750 subscribers.

Harvard Pilgrim HMOs requested an average increase of 18.7 percent, and were approved for a 21.1 percent increase; this will impact about 7,100 subscribers.

This means Maine’s insurance board approved ACA premiums that are, collectively, 10 percent higher than what insurance companies requested, impacting 81,850 Mainers.

Charles Gaba, a health data analyst, recently told USA Today that “part of regulators’ jobs is to keep insurance companies solvent so they can continue to give people insurance.” That makes sense – we need competitive plans in the marketplace in order for the ACA to work – but whose job is it to make sure the premiums are affordable for subscribers?

Rebecca Boulos, MPH, Ph.D.

Maine Public Health Association

Augusta