across America are preparing for hikes in their health insurance premiums under
the Affordable Care Act. For some people government subsidies will counter the
price hike and for customers who already have insurance can shop for better
of St. George - Utah, said that he and his wife were facing an 18% hike in
premiums in the coming year, so he is looking for a plan with lower premiums
and a higher deductible. He is in his 50's and semi retired.
"It's not a major hardship," he said. "But I still
have some years until I am on Medicare. My worry is by the time I'm 65, who
knows where this will be?" Overall, he said he's been very satisfied with
his "gold" plan this year.
"How all this shakes out will depend on one big wild
card," said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.
"Will current enrollees become savvy shoppers or just sit back and stay in
their current plans? This is a new program with no precedent, so there's no way
to predict exactly what will happen."
This time the administration had not released its own analysis,
only giving out the data which independent experts worked on. The analysts
focused on 'silver plans' which fall a little below the employer sponsored
coverage. There are 4 levels in plans - the platinum, gold, silver and bronze.
According to a study by Avalere Health the lowest costing silver plan would
also be up by 10% on an average.
A Kaiser Foundation study found that the premiums in the silver
plan could increase in 59% counties and decrease in 34%. 18 counties would see
a 10% increase and 7% would remain the same. It depended on what the insurer
would have bid for - so it was best to shop around for the best options.
employer sponsored plans, which cover about 150 million people is the biggest
chunk of the health insurance market. Costs in these plans are usually more
contained but a rise of 4.6% is expected.
Levitt felt even so consumers would be able to find some low cost
plans, "In some places, premiums are actually going down, which is almost
unheard of in health insurance," he said.
Robert Glenn of Charleston, South Carolina actually saw a drop of
$17 for his gold plan. He found he could save more money by picking the silver
plan and save $104.
"I see the forces of capitalism and competition working this
year," said Glenn, a psychiatrist in his early 30s who's an independent
contractor. "I know I am just but one of millions of people affected ...
but 'Obamacare' is working for me."
The Kaiser Foundation analysis found wide differences from state
to state and at times within the state also. Alaska and Minnesota had the
highest increases and most counties in Georgia had decreases. Florida and Texas
were found to be on the higher side.