Premiums for individually-purchased health insurance rose an average of 49 percent during the first year of the Affordable Care Act, with young men seeing rates go up 78 percent, according to a new nonpartisan review of 2013 and 2014 rates.
An increase is no surprise. The ACA mandated a higher level of benefits for all policies and eliminated the practice of denying coverage or boosting rates based on medical conditions.
But Kev Coleman, head of research and data for HealthPocket, says he was caught off guard by the size of the hikes. "I thought it was going to be a lower amount," he said Tuesday.
HealthPocket, a health insurance comparison website owned by Health Insurance Innovations, compared premiums for nonsmoking 23-, 30- and 63-year-old men and women in the two largest metropolitan areas of each state. The study includes 2014 policies sold on ACA exchanges and independently. It does not include group rates for employer-provided insurance. And the 2014 rates don't factor in the government subsidies that reduced payments for most people who bought on the exchanges.
The youngest men saw the biggest hike, from an average of $145 a month in 2013 to $258 this year, a 78 percent increase. Again, it's no surprise that men took a hit. The ACA eliminated the practice of charging women more because of the possibility of pregnancy and other gender-specific expenses.
The oldest men saw the smallest percentage increase (23 percent), but that's partly because they had the highest 2013 rates ($603 a month, going up to $741).
The report doesn't break out increases by state, but it does list 2014 averages. North Carolina's 23-year-olds are paying an average of $249 a month ($9 under the national average), 30-year-olds are paying $283 (also $9 under the national average) and 63-year-olds are paying $736 ($5 under the national average).
The report notes that the comparison is "multifaceted and prone to political misuse." You can find a discussion of the issues in the report's conclusion -- and with midterm elections less than a week away, you can also bet on seeing some simplified versions circulating soon.