ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexicans shopping for health insurance through beWellnm can expect to spend a bit less money on insurance premiums in 2021.
The Office of the Superintendent of Insurance announced health insurance premiums for 2021 on Tuesday. The new numbers show that the average cost of premiums declined significantly in each of the Bronze, Silver and Gold plan categories across the state compared to 2020.
“Not only are rates decreasing, but New Mexico will have more health plans competing in the marketplace than ever before,” said New Mexico Superintendent of Insurance Russell Toal in a prepared statement.
OSI project manager Colin Baillio said 2015 was the last year the agency recorded a comparable decrease. Baillio attributed the decrease in part to two new insurers – Western Sky Community Care and Friday Health Plan – entering the market.
The new arrivals ensure that, even with the departure of New Mexico Health Connections – which announced that it would cease operations at the end of the year – the number of insurers operating in the state will increase next year.
“Our market continues to be very competitive,” Baillio said. “Historically, we’ve had a lot of carriers participating in the marketplace.”
Baillio said the COVID-19 pandemic may have affected prices as well, albeit indirectly. He said there was concern the pandemic may result in a lot of pent-up demand, as people look to postpone voluntary medical procedures until restrictions are lifted. So far, however, that hasn’t been the case, which likely had an impact on the rates.
“There probably isn’t as much pent-up demand as had initially been feared,” Baillio said.
Another factor may be the increased prevalence of telemedicine, which has become more common, and may help keep costs down going forward.
Average costs dropped across the board, though the amount varied by plan and by region. Silver plans, the most common plan purchased on the individual exchange, will decrease between 8.1% and 13.5% on average, according to OSI. Additionally, small businesses will experience a 6.7% average premium decrease on beWellnm.
New Mexico’s 45-day open enrollment period for coverage starting in January begins Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15. Baillio encouraged New Mexicans shopping for health insurance to use beWellnm’s price comparison tool to find the best rate.
“We’re hopeful that these lower rates will make it easier for people to be able to have the security of coverage,” Baillio said.