State, Federal Exchange Plan Premiums Increased by 2.9%
Premiums for the lowest-cost silver plans sold through the federal and state exchanges increased by an average of 2.9% nationally between 2014 and 2015, according to new Urban Institute report, The Hill reports (Ferris, The Hill, 3/17).
For the report, the researchers looked at premium data in all rating regions for each state and for Washington, D.C. According to the report, the premium data were based on the lowest-cost silver plans for a 40-year-old who does not use tobacco (Holahan et al., Urban Institute report, March 2015).
According to The Hill, the findings stem concerns that the Affordable Care Act has spurred substantial premium increases. However, the researchers noted that such low increases might not continue going forward.
According to the researchers, insurers kept rates low by "developing more limited provider networks." However, the researchers wrote that "[w]hether these arrangements are sustainable and remain attractive to consumers over time is unknown." According to The Hill, insurers need to feel pressure from consumers to stay competitive and keep prices down (The Hill, 3/17).
The researchers found that premium increases varied regionally, with premiums increasing by:
- 1.4% in the West;
- 1.8% in the Northeast;
- 3.5% in the Midwest; and
- 5.4% in the South.
Further, the report found that the average premium for the lowest-cost silver plan in major cities frequently was lower than the state average, while the average premium for such plans in rural areas tended to be higher than the state average (Urban Institute report, March 2015).
Overall, the report found that premiums were highest in the Northeast, at $284 per month, and less costly in the South and Midwest, where monthly premiums are about $50 less (The Hill, 3/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.