When I ran the preliminary 2020 rate changes for unsubsidized ACA policies in Alaska back in August, it was pretty easy to do...there's only a single carrier offering ACA-compliant individual market policies for 2019, which means no weighting is required. Furthermore, Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield is basically keeping their rates flat for 2020 anyway.
Moda is re-entering the market for 2020, but there's no "rate change" for them since there's no base premiums to measure against year over year.
Anyway, CMS just posted the final, approved rate changes, and Premera's number is ever so slightly higher than it was: They went from a 0.05% reduction to...a 0.03% reduction.
CMS has just posted the final, approved rates for Alabama's 2 carriers (Blue Cross Blue Shield and Bright Health). Both carriers had their requested rate hikes approved without any changes, but the final weighted average for unsubsidized enrollees still dropped a bit to 3.3%...because I had the wrong market share ratios. It looks like Bright has an even smaller share of the market than I thought (less than 1%), bringing the weighted average down a bit.
It's also important to keep in mind that due to how the ACA's subsidy formula is structured (combined with Silver Loading and Silver Switching), a lower benchmark premium will actually result in higher net premiums for many subsidized enrollees (although it's still good news for those who are unsubsidized). Here's why:
Let's say the unsubsidized premiums for a given enrollee in 2019 is $400 for Bronze, $600 for the benchmark Silver and $700 for Gold.
Let's say that enrollee earns exactly $32K/year (256% FPL), meaning they only have to pay 8.54% of their income for the benchmark plan.
That means they qualify for ($7,200 - $2,733) = $4,467 in subsidies ($372/month).
This would leave them paying $228/month for the benchmark Silver...but they can apply that towards a Bronze plan if they wish so they'd only pay $28/month, or a Gold plan so they only pay $328/month.
A week or so ago I noted that several of the 13 state-based exchanges (remember, Nevada split off of HC.gov this year) had opened up their ACA exchange websites for prospective enrollees to window shop for 2020 coverage. One of them, Covered California, actually started allowing people to enroll already; the rest were for comparison shopping only.
Premiums for HealthCare.gov Plans are down 4 percent but remain unaffordable to non-subsidized consumers
Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that the average premium for the second lowest cost silver plan on HealthCare.gov for a 27 year-old will drop by 4 percent for the 2020 coverage year. Additionally, 20 more issuers will participate in states that use the Federal Health Insurance Exchange platform in 2020 bringing the total to 175 issuers compared to 132 in 2018, delivering more choice and competition for consumers. As a result of the Trump Administration’s actions to stabilize the market, Americans will experience lower premiums along with greater choice for the second consecutive year.
Back in early August, I ran the preliminary average unsubsidized 2020 individual market rate changes in Arizona. At the time, I had the requested rate changes for both the individual and small group markets, but not the actual enrollment numbers for each carrier, so I had no way of calculating the weighted average. I instead settled for a simple unweighted average, which came in at around a 2.4% reduction in premiums on the individual market and a 5.2% increase on the small group market.
A few days ago, the Arizona Insurance Dept. released the final/approved 2020 rate changes, and there was only one significant change: Health Net of AZ (dba Arizona Complete Health), which had requested a 2.9% rate reduction, will instead be keeping their premiums flat year over year on average. With Health Net holding over 50% of the market share, this meant that the statewide average is a bit higher than I had it previously.
Back in July, the Pennsylvania Insurance Dept. posted the preliminary/requested 2020 average premium rate changes for the individual and small group markets. The ACA-compliant individual market average increase was around 4.6%; for small businesses, the average was 9.6%.
Today they finally posted the approved rate changes for each...and the indy market average has dropped to a 3.8% increase, while the small group market has gone up just a hair to 9.7%.
I'm not sure when the other 7 state-based exchanges will launch their 2020 window shopping tools, nor do I know when HealthCare.Gov's window shopping will be open for the other 38 states, although I believe they usually do so about a week ahead of the official November 1st Open Enrollment Period launch date.
I also noted that there's two important points for CA residents to keep in mind starting this Open Enrollment Period:
First: The individual mandate penalty has been reinstated for CA residents. If you don't have qualifying coverage or receive an exemption, you'll have to pay a financial penalty when you file your taxes in 2021, and...
Second: California has expanded and enhanced financial subsidies for ACA exchange enrollees:
Until now, only CoveredCA enrollees earning 138-400% of the Federal Poverty Line were eligible for ACA financial assistance. Starting in 2020, however, enrollees earning 400-600% FPL may be eligible as well (around $50K - $75K/year if you're single, or $100K - $150K for a family of four). In addition, those earning 200-400% FPL will see their ACA subsidies enhanced a bit.
While the 2020 Open Enrollment Period doesn't officially start until November 1st across the rest of the country, in California it begins two weeks earlier, for whatever reason:
In most states, open enrollment for 2020 coverage will run from November 1, 2019 to December 15, 2019. But California enacted legislation (A.B.156) in late 2017 that codifies a three-month open enrollment period going forward — California will not be switching to the November 1 – December 15 open enrollment window that other states are using.
Instead, California’s open enrollment period (both on- and off-exchange) will begin each year on October 15, and will continue until January 15. Under the terms of the legislation, coverage purchased between October 15 and December 15 will be effective January 1 of the coming year, while coverage purchased between December 16 and January 15 will be effective February 1.
Back in July, the Colorado Insurance Dept. announced the preliminary 2020 avg. premium rate changes for the individual and small group markets, including making the important point that their then-pending Section 1332 Reinsurance Waiver program, if approved, would cut down on unsubsidized premiums by over 18% on average (18.2%, to be precise, according to the CO DOI, although my own analysis based on the preliminary rate filings brought it in at a 17.5% reduction).
With the 2020 Open Enrollment Period rapidly approaching (it actually kicks off on October 15th in California, and on November 1st in every other state + DC), it's important to keep in mind that many people who didn't qualify for financial assistance in 2019 may qualify in 2020...and in some cases that could mean a difference of thousands of dollars due to how the ACA subsidy formula works and other factors.
First, a refresher on how the ACA formula works for Individual Market enrollees (that is, people who are looking to buy health insurance for themselves and/or their family who don't receive it through their employer, Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP or some other source).
Getting ready for MNsure's open enrollment period: what to know and how to prepare
Open enrollment runs November 1 through December 23, 2019
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The MNsure open enrollment period begins in less than one month. To ensure Minnesotans are prepared to shop and enroll in coverage starting November 1, MNsure is highlighting some important information:
Open enrollment is shorter this year — don't miss out on coverage
MNsure's open enrollment period for 2020 health and dental coverage will be seven weeks long — beginning November 1, 2019, and ending December 23, 2019. Minnesotans should note that open enrollment is shorter than previous years and all those who enroll during open enrollment will have a start date of January 1, 2020.
MNsure assisters are ready to help — schedule an appointment today
MNsure has a statewide network of expert assisters who can help Minnesotans apply and enroll, free of charge. The assister can be a navigator or a broker.
The South Carolina Insurance Dept. released their final/approved 2020 Individual and Small Group Market premium rate changes a few days ago.
Previously, I only had the unweighted averages, which were a 1.9% decrease on the Indy market and an 11% increase for small group enrollees...but SCDOI has included the weighted averages for each in their approved numbers: A 3.9% drop and 7.6% increase respectively.
It's also worth noting that the Individual market is growing from three carriers to five next year--both Bright Health Co. and Molina Healthcare are joining the South Carolina market for the first time.