END OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD (42 states)

Time: D H M S

Minnesota: Shopping around can save up to 19% on premiums

This is basically a mini, state-level version of the "Shop Around & Save $51/month" press release from the HHS Dept. the other day.

MNsure, the Minnesota ACA exchange (which isn't included in the HC.gov analysis above, of course), just posted their own independent analysis of their 2016 rate offerings, and while the picture is pretty ugly for current enrollees who don't shop around, it's actually pretty damned good for those who do so:

The analysis shows that 85 percent of 2015 MNsure enrollees who are not currently receiving an advanced premium tax credit are enrolled in plans that are continuing in 2016 on MNsure, and will see an average rate increase of 38 percent if they auto-renew into their same plan. Enrollees have the opportunity to hold this to a 20 percent increase in rates if they move to the lowest cost plan in the same metal level. In some cases, individuals in this category will qualify for advanced premium tax credits for the first time, lowering their potential premium increase even more.

The analysis also shows that 87 percent of 2015 MNsure enrollees who are currently receiving an advanced premium tax credit will see an average premium increase of 24 percent if they auto-renew into their same plan.Enrollees have the opportunity to move this to a 19 percent decrease if they move to the lowest cost plan in the same metal tier. 

"This study confirms what we have been saying for weeks: it literally pays to shop and compare this year on MNsure," said interim CEO Allison O'Toole. "The research is clear, and we don't want Minnesotans to leave money on the table. This independent analysis shows that if you want to find the best deal on health insurance, you need to shop through MNsure."

Shorter version:

For those currently receiving tax credits (about 55% of enrollees):

  • If you don't shop around, your rates will increase 24% on average. However...
  • If you switch to the lowest-priced plan in the same metal tier, your rates will decrease 19% on average.

For those not currently receiving tax credits (around 45% of enrollees):

  • If you don't shop around, your rates will increase 38% on average. However...
  • If you switch to the lowes-priced plan in the same tier, your rates will only go up 20% on average.

Unlike most states, in Minnesota it's almost an even split between those receiving credits and not, due to many enrolling in the Basic Health Plan (MinnesotaCare) instead.

And yes, I do fully realize that it's not that simple for many people. Switching healthcare policies isn't something to do on a whim, especially if you're moving to a different carrier, a different type of plan (PPO to HMO, etc), etc. You have to make sure that your preferred doctor/hospital is in the network (or, alternately, you have to decide whether it's worth it to move to different ones), and so on, so not everyone will be able to simply "change plans!" In addition, it's worth noting that even if you do "save" 19%, that's a 19% savings on what you would be paying in 2016 otherwise, not 19% off of what you're paying now.

However, for many people, this makes the most sense. EVERYONE should take a look instead of blindly autorenewing.