- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Many New Mexico residents getting coverage through the state health insurance exchange will see slightly lower premiums in 2015, new state figures show.

The state Office of the Superintendent of Insurance said premiums will go down for three of the five insurers, the Albuquerque Journal (http://bit.ly/1rtjmMS ) reported Monday.

As an example, the office said premiums for a 50-year-old, non-smoking Albuquerque-area resident will drop on average by 7 percent at Molina Healthcare, 1.5 percent at New Mexico Health Connections, and 1 percent at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico.

Presbyterian Health Plan premiums won’t change, the newspaper said.

A fifth participating insurer, Christus Health Plan, is in its first year.

A common premise for setting the first-year rates in 2014 was that initial enrollment would include a lot of uninsured people with existing health problems. Such high-risk signees, from an insurance standpoint, cannot be turned away under federal health care reform.

“We saw some pretty significant conditions - people with cancer, people with heart conditions who had immediate needs,” said Lisa Farrell Lujan, president for Presbyterian Health Plan.

Healthier individuals are expected to enroll in 2015, said Lisa Rubino, a senior vice president with Molina Healthcare. “The penalties will increase next year, so healthier people who sat on the sidelines last year will be more likely to enroll.”

Blue Cross insurance premiums also dropped due to cost savings in new contracts with health care providers, CEO Kurt Shipley said. While the state reported an expected 1 percent drop on average in Blue Cross premiums in 2015, Shipley said the company’s calculations put the decrease at 3 to 4 percent.

The New Mexico health insurance exchange is a one-stop shop for hundreds of individual plans approved by the state insurance superintendent’s office.

Open enrollment for the 2015 plans begins Nov. 15 and ends Feb. 15.

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