If you’re currently signed up for a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act (better known as ObamaCare), you may have heard the rumors floating around about expected price hikes in the coming year. Depending on how things play out, those rumors unfortunately may turn out to be true. The most popular plans are expected to come with a double digit price hike when 2017’s enrollment opens in November, just days before this year’s presidential election.
Based on an analysis recently released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, some of the most popular ObamaCare plans are looking to increase by an average of 10 or 11 percent (or more) in 13 major cities and the District of Columbia next year. There is, however, a wide variation to be found in this analysis. The numbers range from anywhere as low as a 14 percent price cut for the second cheapest silver plan in Providence, Rhode Island, to a 26 percent increase for the same plan in Portland, Oregon.
Despite that East Coast anomaly, most areas are proposing an increase by a steeper rate than similar ObamaCare plans have done in past years. For example, in Burlington, Vermont, monthly rates for the cheapest silver plan are expected to jump $20 from its going 2016 rate for a total cost of $482 annually. Last year, the second cheapest silver plans rose an average of 5 percent in their costs in the same cities recently analyzed by the KFF. Now the cheapest silver plans are expected to jump by 11 percent next year.
Granted, these are very early numbers and they could end up going in either direction after the states evaluate their policies and price changes. It should also be remembered that the numbers given by the KFF don’t include what those receiving tax credits would actually pay. That would be determined by their family size and household income.
Adding to all the confusion, the KFF predicts an overall nationwide drop in the number of health insurers available through ObamaCare in 2017. As the report puts it, “On average, 5.5 insurers (grouped by parent company) will offer coverage in these 14 states in 2017, which is slightly less than the average participation in 2015 and 2016 (an average of 6.4 and 5.9, respectively).” Connecticut, for example, saw 10 such insurers participating in 2014, but that number may drop to 7 as 2017 approaches.
And yet, despite these cuts, some states will see an increase in insurer participation.
So what do all these varying numbers mean for you, exactly? What should you expect?
The short answer is that it’s too early to tell which way premium prices will go in your particular area. Overall, it seems an ObamaCare price hike could be seen in most places, particularly in major metropolitan areas on the West Coast. A lot of it may depend on who emerges victorious in the 2016 election and his or her plans to expand or repeal the program. We’ll have to wait and see.
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