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Medica

Medica is proposing a 5.3% decrease in rates for its Affordable Care Act-compliant health insurance policies sold in Nebraska.

The tens of thousands of Nebraskans who get their health insurance through the federal marketplace exchange may get some cost relief.

Medica, which has been the only company offering Affordable Care Act-compliant insurance in Nebraska for the past couple of years, is proposing to drop rates across the board next year.

In its rate filing with the Nebraska Department of Insurance, Medica requested an overall 5.3% rate decrease for its three ACA-compliant policies.

Greg Bury, a spokesman for Minnesota-based Medica, said the rates are based on the claims experience for 2018, the most recent full year available.

"Our 2018 claims experience was better than anticipated and our filing reflects this," Bury said in an email.

Bury said the fact that rates are leveling off or even dropping is "a good sign for market stability."

An analysis earlier this month by ACASignups.net showed that ACA premium rates nationally are expected to rise by 0.6%, the lowest annual increase since the law went into effect. Only six states have higher proposed rate decreases than Nebraska's.

Soaring prices and operating losses were a major factor in driving companies out of Nebraska's ACA market.

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Medica has been the only company offering ACA policies in the state for the past two years after Aetna pulled out in 2017. In 2016, both UnitedHealth and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska exited the ACA's individual market.

However, consumers will have a choice of providers next year.

Bright Health, a startup health insurer that's also based in Minnesota, announced last month that it will offer a range of policies in Nebraska starting next year, including ACA-compliant individual policies.

Bruce Ramge, director of the Nebraska Department of Insurance, said Bright Health has made an initial rate request filing with the department.

Ramge said rate requests from new companies are not made public until rates are finalized in November.

In its expansion announcement last month, Bright Health said its model is to partner with a major health system and then construct a comprehensive network of services around that provider.

The company has not said who it plans to partner with in Nebraska.

About 88,000 Nebraskans bought individual health insurance policies through the federal marketplace exchange this year.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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