We knew this day was coming. Every year sometime between your fourth of July BBQ and your Labor Day BBQ, CoveredCA releases the upcoming year’s new plan and rate information for carriers participating on their exchange. Every year since its inception, CoveredCA’s detractors have promised “sky-high” rate increases, but thus far the actual changes have been fairly mild at 4% each year. That ends today:
— Emily Bazar (@emilybazar) July 19, 2016
Emily Bazar of Kaiser Health News is reporting that this year’s increase will average 13.2% across the state in 2017- a number finally giving credence to ACA opponents’ promises of skyrocketing premiums. Make no mistake- this is bad news for the average consumer. Rates have continued to rise since CoveredCA’s inception, while this past year CoveredCA made their first change to their standard benefit agreement, lowering benefits virtually across the board. However, this is just the first datapoint released from CoveredCA’s normally comprehensive mid-summer report. There are several things we still need to know:
- Rates are going up 13.2%. How is that distributed? If rates are going up 40% for plans with few enrollees and 5% for plans that claim the majority of subscribers, that 13.2% figure is not nearly as bad. On the other hand, if reversed then the average figure is misleading in the other direction
- What will the 2017 benefits look like? If benefits stay the same or are decreased, we can say this is a big loss for the consumer. If benefits increase then at least subscribers are getting something for their added contribution.
It’s important to understand that subscribers who are receiving premium assistance will all be impacted differently. While gross rates go up 13.2%, your contribution may also go up. While we are all frustrated with this news, the important takeaway is always the same- your situation is unique to you and you need to speak with your benefit adviser on how these changes affect both your health insurance program and your health care plan. Open enrollment begins 11/1, but it’s never too early to check in!