If it felt like Obamacare insurance premiums continued to climb this year, it’s not your imagination.
A new report from the nonprofits Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Institute shows that, from 2015 to 2016, 45 states saw an increase in the average premium price for the lowest-cost silver health plan purchased in the new insurance marketplaces.
Nationwide, that average premium price for insurance coverage purchased under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 — the federal law also known as “Obamacare” — increased by 8.3 percent.
However, the report calls that number “a fairly meaningless statistic since different markets are having very different experiences.”
Looking at 499 rating areas across the country, 29.1 percent of the population lives in areas with average premium price decreases, while 26.3 percent of the population lives in areas with the largest increases — defined in the report as hikes of at least 15 percent.
At the state level, the 2015-2016 change in the average premium price for the lowest-cost silver plan offered in the marketplaces ranged from an increase of 41.8 percent in Oklahoma to a decrease of 12.1 percent in Indiana.
The 10 states that saw the largest increases are:
- Oklahoma: 41.8 percent increase in average 2016 premium compared with average 2015 premium
- Alaska: 40.2 percent increase
- Tennessee: 38.6 percent increase
- Montana: 35.2 percent increase
- Hawaii: 33.6 percent increase
- Nebraska: 26.2 percent increase
- Minnesota: 25.8 percent increase
- Colorado: 24.8 percent increase
- Arizona: 24.4 percent increase
- South Dakota: 23.8 percent increase
The five states that, along with the District of Columbia, saw decreases are:
- Indiana: 12.1 decrease in average 2016 premium compared with average 2015 premium
- Mississippi: 6.8 percent decrease
- New Mexico: 4.7 percent decrease
- Washington, D.C.: 4.2 percent decrease
- Michigan: 1.9 percent decrease
- Ohio: 1.1 percent decrease
With averages varying so much, the report notes:
The focus of attention should be on understanding the wide variability by identifying the characteristics of markets that have experienced high premiums or high growth in premiums and of markets with lower premiums or lower growth in premiums.
One such characteristic could be competition. The report notes that “the lowest-cost silver plan premium available is lower when more insurers participate in the nongroup marketplace in a given region in 2015. Although this is likely because of the effect of competition, it could also be because markets that begin with somewhat lower premiums have more competition.”
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