Premiums for low cost plans under the Affordable Care Act (AHA) are predicted to rise an average of 11 percent next year, according to a study released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The study examined changes in premiums for the lowest-cost and second-lowest silver marketplace plans in major cities across 13 states and the District of Columbia. It found premiums for the lowest-cost silver plan will go up in 12 of the areas and decrease in two, with changes ranging from a decrease of 14 percent in Providence, R.H., to an increase of 26 percent in Portland, Ore.
Similar cost increases are predicted for the second-lowest silver plan in each city.
“Premiums are going up faster in 2017 than they have in past years,” said Cynthia Cox, lead author of the study. Since these plans are the most popular in the marketplace and about 12 millions Americans receive coverage through AHA, the cost spike may affect a substantial number of individuals.
Consumers can diminish the impact of a price increase by switching plans—and potentially their doctors—in 2017. Insurers offering the lowest premiums in 2016 are often no longer offering the same plans in 2017. According to the the authors of the analysis, consumers should take advantage of each open enrollment period to compare coverage prices and choose the new cheapest options.
Substantial government subsidies may also cushion the blow. Kaiser Health News says more than eight in 10 marketplace enrollees will not be directly affected by the rise in premiums due to income-based subsidies.
About two million customers make too much to qualify for these subsidies, and an estimated three to five million people who buy their policies outside of markets do not receive federal assistance.
Open enrollment begins Nov. 1, just a week before election day. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wants to build upon President Barack Obama’s health plan and continue to enroll uninsured individuals, while Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wants to repeal it. The uninsured rate is currently at a historical low of 9 percent.
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