Thursday, October 30, 2014

Study: Individual health premiums spiked 49 percent

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.

Image: HealthPocket

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).

Coleman cautions that the averages don't mean that most people saw rate hikes that big.  The ACA eliminated many of the cheapest policies with the stingiest benefits,  so those people had to trade up and pay more.  Many people who had no insurance in 2013,  including those rejected for expensive medical conditions,  joined the 2014 pool.  Insurance companies raised rates to cover their anticipated expenses.

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.


Anonymous said...

Why is Kay hagan even close to being reelected?

Anonymous said...

Two things to consider...

One, the dismal health condition of the average Southerner and,

Two, the lack of any standards for previous "policies".

Anonymous said...

"An increase is no surprise."

This clearly flies in the face of:

"I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family's premium by up to $2,500 a year."

John said...

"The report notes that the comparison is "multifaceted and prone to political misuse."

Yeah, that's what they say when the report finds data that you don't like.

Anonymous 8:50:

Your comment: "the dismal health condition of the average Southerner..." reeks of bigotry and stereotyping, and ignores the fact that the study is nationwide, NOT just in the South... in fact, the story cited NC being BELOW the national average... which undermines your statement. Perhaps READ the article first?

Anonymous said...

Even women's rates went up 35% to 45%. Anybody with insurance at work seeing their rates come down? Didn't think so.

We are having higher rates and layoffs.

Anonymous said...

My very healthy 59 year old wife just received a 45% increase in her individual health premium...........thank you President Obama!

Anonymous said...

If you don't count the subsidies and count mainly the group whose rates were bound to go up, and you leave out group insurance, and you don't count the young men who can now still be covered by their parents' group policies, then guess what, the average went up a whole lot. No one should be surprised, and the article says that you shouldn't be.

Policies that pay a whopping $50 toward your hospital bills don't cut it any more, and insurance companies can't deny paying for your cancer treatment because you once had acne. Policies that actually pay something when you get sick are naturally going to cost more.

In general the costs of the health care system have been going up much more slowly the past few years than they had been. I've not had a premium increase in a couple of years.

Seniors who get into the "doughnut hole" are saving half of the costs of expensive prescription medicines.

The NC legislature did block coverage for people just above the poverty line, and their "tax cut" raises taxes on people with significant medical bills by eliminating the medical tax deduction.

Meanwhile, the Heritage Foundation is complaining that we adopted their health care plan, and Paul Ryan comes to NC to complain that the ACA makes some of the same cuts to managed-care subsidies in Medicare that the Ryan budget made.

Anonymous said...

Victor Davis Hanson posted these comments yesterday on National Review online, "Do bothersome facts matter anymore? Not really. This is an age when Americans were assured that the Affordable Care Act lowered our premiums, It cut deductibles. Obamacare allowed us to keep our doctors and health plans, and lowered the deficit. Those fantasies were both demonstrably untrue and did not matter, given the supposedly noble aims of health reform."

The law passed without a single Republican vote by a bunch of hook-and-crook Democrats. They knowingly lied to us (including Obama) for support of this monstrously bad piece of legislation. And the Charlotte Observer supported them all the way, including Ann Doss Helms.

Garth Vader said...


What the HELL is "affordable" about that?

And how much did Herb & Marion Sandler (NBC: "People who should be shot") pay you to claim that "the increase is no surprise"?

Anonymous said...

Not to forget that about 10 million more people now have coverage due to ACA. Here is a map which shows coverage by geography:

Anonymous said...

Dont forget Hagan cast the deciding vote in the Senate to get this socialist garbage only to have it promoted to illegal aliens who get it free at taxpayers expense.

OBAMA HAGAN ARE HATED !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

"Two things to consider...

One, the dismal health condition of the average Southerner and,

Two, the lack of any standards for previous "policies"."







Anonymous said...

We should stop blaming Obama and start blaming the various healthcare companies that are ripping off the American people.
We should all be asking the basic question of why Americans are charged more than double the fees for less healthcare services when compared to ALL other developed countries.
Why such a big difference? Why does our GOP continually support such high fees?

Anonymous said...

Everyone forgets for those who do not work and received care at Hospital emergency rooms and clinics. WE ARE PAYING FOR THEM NOW!!!!!

Anonymous said...

We are paying for all Americans who did not have insurance and are also still utilizing Hospital Er's and clinics

Anonymous said...

Hagan must go.. Rubber stamping Obama will nut cut it anymore...

Archiguy said...

Democrats can point to the health insurance hikes and say they're less than they have been in the past and less than in other areas of the country because of Obamacare. And that's true.

Republicans can say the increases are due to Obamacare, when in fact they go up EVERY year. Doesn't matter.

This inflation cycle can't be controlled as long as the private insurance industry and its staggering overhead are involved in health care. The only way to control costs and guarantee universal coverage is with a single payer plan. Think Medicare for Everyone.

Seniors already enjoy a socialized health care plan paid for by younger workers. We know how to do it.

The ACA was intended to bring millions more under the insurance umbrella, and it has. But it has no way to really control costs, other than bringing the insurance companies lots of new customers and hope economies of scale can keep rate increases down. That has happened, and will continue as more people sign up. But it's small change.

Only a single payer system with a vetted schedule of values and massive bargaining power can really control out-of-control health care spending. It's what every other civilized country on earth has already figured out. When will we?

Anonymous said...

So you think we should have government health care like Britain, where you wait months to see a doctor, no thanks,

Health care premiums never rose 20-%40 before obamacare, plus we were told by Hagan that they would go down and you could keep your plan and your doctor.

Anonymous said...

They need to end the marriage penalty of the ACA. I don't see how that flies while something like maternity coverage for men with vasectomies is a mandate.

Anonymous said...

We had 40+ million uninsured before ObamaCare and we still do.

Archiguy said...

Anon 6:13 -- Your comment is ill-informed. The citizens of the UK love their national health care system. They're so proud of it that they even devoted a large part of the 2012 London Summer Olympics opening ceremony to celebrating it before the world. You probably don't remember -- too busy watching FOX News I suppose.

Just ask anyone from the UK, or Canada, if they'd trade their system for ours and see what they say. Please, just try it.

Your second comment is wrong as well. The fact is that the rise in health care premiums in the country as a whole has slowed because of the ACA. If they're rising in NC, it's because the GOP "leadership" refused to set up a state exchange that would have brought in more competition. That's how the system was designed to work.

Anonymous said...

Hey, not everyone's premiums are going up. Instead, our benefits are going down. Let's show some balance here.

Unknown said...

I wasn't surprised by the increase between the rates of 2013 and 2014, but I didn't expect it I guess. It's nice to have the increase explained here, helps me to understand rather than just be frustrated. Getting individual health care is important either way, so I won't stop paying for it even if there is another price hike for this new year.