The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services has announced that the Obamacare marketplace across the state will offer 10 insurance carriers for 2017, four less than this year.

Rate increases will average 16.7 percent for individuals, and 2.5 percent for small businesses.

The open enrollment period begins Nov. 1 for new participants, as well as those who need to switch insurers or want to shop online for a new provider.

The impact of the four companies exiting the system is minimal, affecting about 10,000 of the 750,000 Obamacare users in Michigan. However, the number of insurance offerings for people in rural parts of the state is dwindling.

Here’s a portion of a press release issued by the state insurance department:

“Michigan is fortunate in that we continue to have a stable and competitive health insurance market with a range of options and premiums for consumers and businesses throughout the state,” said DIFS Director Patrick McPharlin.

… Two carriers which offer HMO plans withdrawing from the individual Marketplace are:

  • Harbor Health Plan
  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan

Two carriers which offer PPO plans withdrawing from the individual Marketplace are:

  • Priority Health Insurance Company
    • Priority Health, which is the group’s HMO, will continue to be on the individual Marketplace
  • Alliance Health and Life Insurance Company
    • Health Alliance Plan, which is the group’s HMO, will continue to be on the individual Marketplace

All counties in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan will have at least three carriers offering plans with the greatest numbers in Wayne County where there are 9 carriers and Genesee County where there are 8 carriers.  In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan there will be two carriers in each county with the exception of Schoolcraft County which has one.

DIFS completed the review of health insurance rate change requests for the individual and small group markets and approved rate increases that were slightly less than requested. The revisions were the result of DIFS review, except for the reduction in the average rate change for Alliance in the individual market caused by their exit from the Marketplace. The average increase is 16.7% in the individual market and 2.5% in the small group market.

As in prior years, DIFS conducted a thorough examination of each company’s rate change request.  This examination included review of public comments received in July 2016 following the posting of the rate change requests. Credentialed actuaries evaluated the rates, consistent with rate review requirements, to ensure compliance with State and Federal laws.

“Ensuring rates are adequate but not excessive is critical to make sure consumers not only receive health insurance coverage at a reasonable price, but can count on the coverage they purchase,” added McPharlin.

DIFS has updated its Rate Change Request Charts to include the final approved rate changes for each company.  When reviewing the charts it is important to note that individuals who receive a tax credit that covers a portion of their premium will likely experience more moderate rate increases due to the tax credit calculation.

These rate changes affect about 750,000 Michiganders enrolled in individual or family policies or through their small group employer.  Michigan’s premium increases are the result of a number of factors that vary by market.  In the individual market, Michigan companies attributed the change to annual health care costs, the reduction in Federal program reinsurance recoveries, and higher than expected claim costs. In the small group market, many companies experienced better than expected results, offsetting the expected increase due to the change in annual health care costs.

DIFS recommends all consumers shop for plans.  According to a recent report, more than 40% of returning consumers switched plans saving an average of $42 per month, or about $500 annually.  It is also important for consumers to be aware that open enrollment starts November 1, 2016.

DIFS offers tools, guides, and resources on their website which is available for use 24 hours a day, seven days a week on the DIFS Health Insurance Consumer Assistance Program’s (HICAP) website, This site contains information on the Marketplace and the Affordable Care Act. HICAP also has a toll-free number, 877-999-6442, for consumers who wish to speak to someone about their questions or concerns.