Despite early fears from critics of Obamacare that rates would skyrocket in 2015, the average rate increase across all states that have reported, as of September 28, is a mere 2.5% and the average monthly premium across all metal tiers is about $325 (excluding subsidies).
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So far 33 states have submitted their projected rate increases for the 2015 enrollment period which begins in November and 5 states – Maryland, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, and Rhode Island — appear to have finalized their rates.
On the East Coast, New York residents will see a 5.7 percent average increase in premiums for the upcoming season. Insurers in that state originally requested an increase worth more than 12 percent, but New York’s Department of Financial Services denied the higher increase in favor of more reasonable premiums.
Republican pundits and politicians have spoken out against Obamacare since its implementation last year, but early projections for 2015 don’t support concerns that the new health care law poses a serious financial burden on beneficiaries.
In the Midwest, for example, rates are expected to increase by just three percent in Wisconsin according to the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance. In addition to low premium increases across the state, two insurers in Wisconsin actually reported decreases in their average premium rates.
Of course, not everyone will see modest change in their premiums. Some may experience higher premiums for 2015 due to the way their health plans are structured or the way that insurers assess individual plans. According to Madison’s WKOW, some individuals might see increases even in companies that cut premium rates across the board.
Still, insurance experts agree that premium increases should be lower than anticipated because many insurers expected higher costs in 2014. To make up for excessive estimates, some companies will lower premium rates for enrollees. As more insurers and providers take the requirements of the ACA into account, beneficiaries across the country could see greater stability when it comes to premiums.
In fact, one of the benefits to rate adjustments for the 2015 season is that some companies may cut premium rates to attract more business. Insurance company Kaiser Permanente, for example, plans to cut rates by 1.4 percent in California in order to compete with other major insurers in that state.
Lower premiums might draw more consumers to companies that they assumed were out of reach before Obamacare took effect. Kaiser Permanente still needs to compete against low-cost options offered by the top three insurers in California, but additional rate adjustments might help the company attract more enrollees.
Enrollees should also note that while rates may appear low right now, the enrollment period hasn’t begun yet. Until then, rates could change. TalkingPointsMemo.com points out that “proposed rate increases greater than 10 percent must be reviewed by government regulators under the law.” This means that rates are not final for any state until they’ve been reviewed by the appropriate federal authorities. Premium rates could also vary significantly depending on region, federal subsidies and consumers’ individual health care needs.