KFF Reports LOWER premiums for 2015 on avg. in 16 major cities...but DON'T AUTO-RENEW!!
So, the big news this morning is that the Kaiser Family Foundation has determined that the "benchmark silver plan" premiums in 16 major U.S. cities are expected to drop by 0.8% on average next year. Not a huge number, but the fact that they're dropping at all is astonishing given the "OMG!!! DOUBLE-DIGIT RATE HIKES!!" freakout which have dominated the most recent ACA critical attacks.
Of course, as has already been shown repeatedly, 1) premiums were already going up by 10-11% per year prior to the ACA exchanges launching anyway, and 2) many states have already reported in on their 2015 rates, and for the most part they're going up by...well, not much (and in some cases actually dropping):
- Maryland: ranges from -14% to +16%
- Mississippi: 2% weighted avg. decrease
- Oregon: 6.8% semi-weighted avg. increase
- District of Columbia: ranges from 8% decrease to small increase
- New York: 5.7% weighted avg. increase
- Arkansas: 2% weighted avg. decrease
- Connecticut: 0.8% weighted avg. increase
- New Mexico: 1.5% semi-weighted avg. decrease
- Michigan: 9.4% requested weighted avg. increase
- Washington State: 1.9% weighted avg. increase
- California: 4.2% weighted avg. increase
- Rhode Island: 4.3% weighted avg. increase
- Florida: 13.2% questionably weighted avg. increase
Now the concerning news: in 12 of the 16 cities that Kaiser studied, at least one of the insurers that offered a benchmark plan in 2014 no longer has benchmark status for 2015. That means that insurer might have raised rates, or another insurer is offering lower prices in 2015. Either way, if a person remains enrolled in what used to be a benchmark plan, that person (assuming life circumstances haven't changed) will have to pay more toward their premium.
That's all to say that shopping around for insurance this year could be really important for the new Obamacare enrollees. New enrollees are particularly price sensitive. Yet past research also shows people generally stick with the plan that they have.
The Obama administration has set rules trying to make it easy for people to do as little as possible to remain enrolled in their health plans in 2015. But that could come at a higher cost.
I can't state this enough times: Do not simply auto-renew your ACA policy. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't renew it at all, it just means that you should log into your account and double-check the new pricing/policies/companies before doing so.