Obamacare Premiums Rise, Again

Mark your calendars (for disappointment)! On November 1 healthcare.gov will launch its third open enrollment season. Here in Pennsylvania, premiums for the second highest silver plan will climb, on average, by 11 percent. Nationally, premiums for these plans are rising an average of 7.5 percent.

The Department of Insurance recently announced roughly one-third of the companies offering individual plans were granted double-digit premium increases. Insurance Commissioner Miller noted the approved rates will save Pennsylvania consumers nearly $81 million compared to proposed rates in June. Pennsylvania insurers initially proposed premium hikes of more than 25 percent.

In other words, don't complain about your premiums rising because it could have been a lot worse. But premium hikes are just one part of the cost of health care.

Limits on premiums have led insurance companies to raise costs in other ways, such as higher deductibles and limiting or ending out-of-network coverage. In fact, consumers shopping on the exchange website still won't be able to see which doctors are “in-network.” It's no wonder the federal government is predicting small gains in enrollment for 2016.

PA Exchange Rate Increases of 10 Percent or Greater

Company Name Market Exchange/SHOP % Requested % Approved​
First Priority Life Insurance Company   Individual On/Off 29.50% 21.5%
Geisinger Health Plan Individual On/Off 40.60% ​20.0%
Geisinger Quality Options Individual On/Off 58.40% ​20.0%
Highmark Individual On/Off 25.50% ​20.1%
Highmark Small Group   On/Off 15.50% ​9.9%
Highmark Benefits Group Small Group Off 13.50% ​9.9%
HM Health Insurance Company Individual On/Off 35.90% ​26.2%
Keystone Health Plan West Individual Off 36.60% ​26.7%

Many Pennsylvanians, and many Americans, are paying more for individual health insurance since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The top-down approach to health care just isn't working. If quality and affordable health care is the goal, patients and consumers need more control.