Open enrollment for people buying insurance through the Affordable Care Act begins Nov. 1, 2016 and runs through Jan. 31, 2017. A major change this year will be increased rates; premiums for the most common “Silver” plans will jump an average of 22 percent. Katherine Swartz, professor of health policy and economics, talked about the premium hikes and her advice for those shopping for insurance.
We’ve heard a great deal about rising insurance premiums this year. How is that likely to affect people purchasing health coverage?
There are going to be some people who have had health insurance this past year who are suddenly going to say, wait a minute, I can’t afford to have my premium go up by 15 percent. But, if they have incomes below 400 percent of the poverty level and their incomes are above the Medicaid eligibility ceiling, they will be getting premium tax credit subsidies. So even though people talk about premiums going up by 10 percent or 20 percent, or in a few cases, closer to 50 percent, people need to remember that if they are eligible for these premium tax credit subsidies that they will not be paying all of that additional cost.
Since the marketplaces opened, a lot of people have remained uninsured. A disproportionate share of them are younger adults. The Obama administration is making a push this year to enroll more of these younger people in plans. And by having more young, healthy people in these plans, that will prevent the premiums from going up quite as rapidly as they have these last two years.