- Obamacare premiums increased between 2017 and 2018, according to a new study.
- The average cost of the cheapest silver-tier plan increased 32% across the US. Gold-tier plans saw a 19.1% increase.
- There were a variety of reasons for the increases, from Trump administration changes to marketplace fundamentals.
- Check out the increases for silver and gold plans by state in maps below.
Affordable Care Act premiums are headed in the same direction as last year: higher.
According to a new study from the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, premiums in the Obamacare exchanges – which provide insurance for people who do not get coverage through work or a government program like Medicaid – jumped 32% nationally for the lowest-cost silver-tier plan, as well as 19.1% for gold-tier plans.
There are a variety of reasons for the increase in premiums from last year, according to the study, ranging from Trump administration actions to unresolved deficiencies in the individual insurance market.
“The premium increases reflect significant policy changes and policy debates specifically affecting insurer decisions for the 2018 plan year as well as more typical annual considerations such as trend and healthcare costs,” the researchers wrote.
Of particular interest to the researchers was the difference between the increase for silver-level plans, the middle-tier of Obamacare coverage, and the gold-level plans.
Silver plans generally saw larger increases in premiums because insurers predominately loaded onto those plans the loss of cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, which helped offset the cost of covering lower-income patients. President Donald Trump ended the CSR payments in October.
States had the option of loading the lost CSR payments into just the silver tier or spreading them out among all the levels.
“26 states had insurers allocate the CSR costs to silver marketplace premiums alone, eight states had the costs allocated to silver plans on and off the marketplaces, three states had insurers spread the costs across all metal tiers in the marketplace, three had insurers spread the costs across all metal tiers on and off the marketplace, and in three states’ approaches varied across insurers,” the study found.
Much of the cost increases won’t be passed onto consumers, since 70% receive subsidies, which bring their premiums below $US75 a month. But it means the program costs the federal government more in the end than if Trump had kept the payments in effect.
Overall, 15 states saw an increase of more than 40% for the lowest cost silver plan while eight saw an increase of 10% or less. Of those, four saw a decrease in premiums.
The largest increase in the lowest-cost gold plan premiums came in Kentucky, a 66.2% pop. Kentucky also shifted from a state-based marketplace to the federally run Healthcare.gov platform for the first time in 2017 and suffered a drop off in enrollment last year.
On the other end of the spectrum was Alaska, which saw gold premiums fall by an average of 27.9% between 2017 and 2018.
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