Premiums on Federal Obamacare Exchanges to Jump 7.5 Percent in 2016

The increases, however, are uneven from one state to the next.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
Caitlin Owens
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Caitlin Owens
Oct. 26, 2015, 4:55 p.m.

Health care premi­ums will in­crease by an av­er­age of 7.5 per­cent in the 37 states us­ing Health­care.gov, the De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices an­nounced Monday.

The hike falls short of night­mare double-di­git-rise scen­ari­os, but it is sig­ni­fic­antly high­er than the 2 per­cent in­crease in premi­ums between 2014 and 2015. The an­nounce­ment came only a few days be­fore open en­roll­ment for 2016 be­gins on Nov. 1.

The av­er­age rate in­creases are based off of second-low­est-cost sil­ver plans, known as bench­mark plans, used to cal­cu­late sub­sidies.

Rising premi­ums have been a source of par­tis­an am­muni­tion against the Af­ford­able Care Act for months, with an­ec­dot­al double-di­git in­creases giv­ing rise to heated Re­pub­lic­an com­ment­ary.

But the HHS ana­lys­is serves as a good re­mind­er that premi­ums are de­term­ined loc­ally, as the prices vary from one place to the next. Michigan, for ex­ample, will see only a 1.2 per­cent av­er­age rise in premi­ums, but in Ok­lahoma con­sumers will see their premi­ums spike by an av­er­age of 35.7 per­cent. The av­er­age rate in­crease for a bench­mark plan in 30 of the largest mar­kets is 6.3 per­cent.

The HHS ana­lys­is also found that about 80 per­cent of re­turn­ing cus­tom­ers will be able to buy a plan with premi­ums cost­ing less than $100 a month after tax cred­its are taken in­to ac­count.

More than two-thirds of counties will have three or more is­suers in their mar­ket­places in 2016. And HHS also found that con­sumers who shopped around saved money on their premi­ums last year. Al­most 53 per­cent of con­sumers who reen­rolled on a mar­ket­place plan last year looked around, and half of those switched plans, ac­cord­ing to HHS. Those who switched plans with­in the same tier saved nearly $400 on their an­nu­al­ized premi­ums after tax cred­its com­pared to those who stayed on their cur­rent plan.

“If con­sumers come back to the mar­ket­place and shop, they may be able to find a plan that saves them money and meets their health needs,” said Kev­in Couni­han, CEO of the Health In­sur­ance Mar­ket­places. “Last year, over half of reen­rolling con­sumers on Health­Care.gov shopped, and half of those who shopped se­lec­ted a new plan; that sort of choice and com­pet­i­tion was lim­ited pri­or to the Af­ford­able Care Act.”

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