Federal and state officials have kept fairly quiet about Obamacare premiums in the days before the health law’s next open enrollment period, but one thing’s for sure: rates are going up this year.
A PricewaterhouseCoopers report on all individual market premiums — on and off Obamacare exchanges — found a large range of rate changes, from a drastic 35 percent hike in Colorado to a 22 percent cut, also in Colorado (the state’s Obamacare exchange changed the geographic rating areas this year to cut costs for ski resort towns). Overall, the average rate hike nationwide is 5.6 percent, according to PWC.
First, all that information isn’t set in stone. Most states haven’t compiled final premium information for the Obamacare exchange. Just seven states — Colorado, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Oregon and Vermont — and Washington, D.C. have made final rate announcements. Of course, the states that did publish final rates had more reason to want the data out there — they had a lower average hike of 3.5 percent.
But the number of big losers is far outweighing the winners. Eight states are facing double-digit rate hikes, while just four states have reported decreases.
Louisiana and Kansas are facing Obamacare premium hikes of more than 15 percent on average. Iowa, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee will see rate lower double-digit rate hikes as well.
Connecticut, Rhode Island and Oregon reported rate decreases of one to two percent, according to PWC. But Mississippi — hailed by Politico earlier this month as the state Obamacare left behind — has the single largest premium decrease at 9.3 percent.
The data is incomplete, as well: Arkansas included its private-option Medicaid plan in its data, for one; Oregon only reported rate changes for one silver level plan for a single, 40-year-old nonsmoker — someone who’s likely to have lower insurance costs in the first place.
And it doesn’t include information from Alaska, Hawaii, Texas, North Dakota or Massachusetts. Alaska alone has some of the highest rate hikes on Obamacare exchanges in the country — Premera Blue Cross is upping rates between 35 and 40 percent and Moda Health by between 22 and 29 percent.
There are a number of other complicating factors — some states don’t require reporting of off-exchange rate changes; other states only require reporting of larger premium hikes; and the on-and-off-exchange pools are still in flux.
Some states have cut off plans that aren’t compliant with Obamacare; others haven’t. Some insurers have cut off the plans themselves, hoping to push healthier customers into their exchange pools instead.
All in all, unless states issue final reports or the Department of Health and Human Services, which reviews exchange plans, issues a comprehensive report, there may not be a complete picture of what’s happening in Obamacare exchanges or in the individual health insurance market outside of them.