As 2016 passes the halfway point and the end of summer is near, individual health insurance companies are working to set rates for 2017 marketplace plans. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has seen much scrutiny lately, especially with the announcement that United Healthcare would pull out of most states at the end of this year, citing massive financial losses.
Because most companies are choosing to stick with the ACA, many marketplace shoppers are concerned about 2017 expenses. With early reports suggesting that individual health insurance rates will spike, customers want to know how high their rates will go.
Individual Health Insurance Rates Expected to Spike
Earnings reports from 2015 signaled heavy losses among many of the individual health insurance companies on the Marketplace. A major reason for this has been a wide ratio of unhealthy to healthy enrollees. With so many people who have been uninsured for years finally able to see a doctor, individual health insurers are seeing expenses much higher than projected.
In order to recoup some of their costs and meet closer to the break even point, this means that many individual health insurance companies will increase rates in 2017. Trying to determine “by how much” is the question on many marketplace shoppers’ minds.
How Much Will Individual Health Insurance Rates Increase in 2017?
Individual health insurance premium estimates are generally based upon the second-lowest marketplace plan (silver) because it is the most common tier selected among enrollees. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), silver level plans are expected to increase by a weighted average of about 9 percent in 2017. For comparison, the average increase from 2015 to 2016 was about 2 percent.
Costs (and therefore, increases) will vary state to state and it is important to note that only 17 cities are included in Kaiser’s estimate. For example, the people of Providence, Rhode Island can expect a 14 percent decrease, while customers in Nashville, Tennessee may see increases up to 27 percent. Of course, this means that it will be impossible to know for sure how much rates will change until the information is due on November 1, 2016.
Shopping Around May Yield Lower Premiums
As with homeowners insurance, it is prudent to shop around when the opportunity arises. The cost of individual health insurance changes from year to year, so it is possible that the best rate from 2016 is not with the same company in 2017. Because of the extra work involved (comparing rates instead of simply signing a form to re-enroll), most ACA customers will not shop around during open enrollment.
However, doing so can save you hundreds throughout the course of a year. If you or your employees feel that they need help with this task, brokers through healthcare.gov are always available. Once a broker is assigned to a customer, that person is available via direct dial or email to answer any questions.
While it is difficult to pinpoint exactly how much individual health insurance rates will increase in 2017, it is generally accepted that premiums will, indeed, go up. Amounts will vary across the country, so it is important to do your best to prepare, but also to shop around during open enrollment to try to get the best deal possible for 2017.
What are you doing to prepare for an increase in individual health insurance premiums? Let us know in the comments below!