Marketplace Premiums, Deductibles Flat Year Over Year

Marketplace health insurance premiums across the nation did not increase from 2014 to 2015. However, while the overall costs were flat, some states did see substantial average premium increases, which were offset by declines in other states.

Marketplace health insurance premiums across the nation did not increase from 2014 to 2015, according to a new analysis from the Commonwealth Fund. However, while the overall costs were flat, some states did see substantial average premium increases, which were offset by declines in other states.

The premiums represented in the analysis were for a 40-year-old nonsmoker.

“Many factors underlie this year’s stability in marketplace premiums, but three important contributors were: an increase in the number of participating insurance carriers; the design of the marketplaces; and the risk stabilization programs for participating insurers,” wrote authors Jon R. Gabel, Heidi Whitmore, Sam Stromberg, Matthew Green, Daniel S. Weinstein, and Rebecca Oran, all from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

While there were average premium declines in 14 states (Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Virginia, and Washington), there were double-digit increases in 10 states (Alaska, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and West Virginia), plus the District of Columbia.

Silver plans in Alaska reported the largest premium increase for silver plans (32%), while Virginia reported premiums for silver plans decreased by 49%. All of Virginia’s plans decreased by 56%. Alaska also reported the most expensive silver plan premiums for a 40-year-old nonsmoker, at $583. In comparison, Hawaii reported the lowest premiums at $206. The average monthly premiums for a silver plan is $314.

The authors reported that in some instances, large premiums increases or decreases can be tied to the decision of a single insurer. For instance, when PreferredOne, which had the lowest statewide premiums and the largest market share, exited the market in Minnesota, it drove up the average cost of a marketplace plan.

Deductibles saw similar changes to premiums. While the national average only increased by 1% from 2014 to 2015, the state changes varied widely. Massachusetts and Hawaii had the highest deductible increases (32% and 28%, respectively), while the District of Columbia reported a decrease of 16%.

“Future price increases of marketplace plans will depend on how effectively America reforms the delivery of care and moves from a system that rewards high volume to one that rewards high-quality care,” the authors concluded.