Obamacare Rate Increases: It’s Too Soon to Make Predictions

Margot Sanger-Katz comments on the proposed insurance rate increases for 2015.

“Some of the rate increases are substantial. But for several reasons, simply looking at the current numbers can be misleading.”

“The rate proposals under review right now are just that: proposals. Last year, many big rate requests were later amended under pressure from regulators. Some of the increases that look hefty now may turn out to be more modest.”

“Because the federal government reviews only plans with requested increases of more than 10 percent, for many states that’s all that’s published on the federal website. That may lead some people to draw a distorted picture of what’s happening to insurance rates, since only the biggest increases are currently searchable.”

“The federal government is on the hook for subsidies linked to that particular second-cheapest ‘silver’ plan. That means that the taxpayer bill for Obamacare will go up only if those plans are getting more expensive. This year, they rose modestly, on average. It’s too soon to predict next year, since we don’t know all the prices yet. But, again, most premium increases won’t hit the government’s bottom line as long as two low-cost plans remain in each market.”

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