Health plan premiums are skyrocketing, according to new survey of 148 insurance brokers

Article Highlights

  • Health insurance premiums are showing the sharpest increases perhaps ever.

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  • April survey shows the largest acceleration in small & indiv. group rates in any of the 12 prior quarterly periods.

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  • Analysts conclude that the “increases [in premiums] are largely due to changes under the ACA.”

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Health insurance premiums are showing the sharpest increases perhaps ever according to a survey of brokers who sell coverage in the individual and small group market. Morgan Stanley’s healthcare analysts conducted the proprietary survey of 148 brokers. The April survey shows the largest acceleration in small and individual group rates in any of the 12 prior quarterly periods when it has been conducted.

The average increases are in excess of 11% in the small group market and 12% in the individual market. Some state show increases 10 to 50 times that amount. The analysts conclude that the “increases are largely due to changes under the ACA.”

The analysts conducting the survey attribute the rate increases largely to a combination of four factors set in motion by Obamacare:  Commercial underwriting restrictions, the age bands that don’t allow insurers to vary premiums between young and old beneficiaries based on the actual costs of providing the coverage, the new excise taxes being levied on insurance plans, and new benefit designs.

The prior survey conducted in January also showed rates rising during the fall of 2013, but the new increases will come on top of those hikes and are even sharper. That prior survey of 131 brokers found that December 2013 rates were rising in excess of 6% in the small group market, and 9% in the individual market.

The hikes in the small group market, on average, have been largest for the Blues plans, which reported average rate increases of almost 16% year-over-year for renewing contracts. In the individual market, the publicly traded health plans had higher increases than the blues, at an average of more than 11%, and private and not-for-profit plans had the highest average increases overall at 13%.

For the individual insurance market (plans sold directly to consumers); among the ten states seeing some of the sharpest average increases are: Delaware at 100%, New Hampshire 90%, Indiana 54%, California 53%, Connecticut 45%, Michigan 36%, Florida 37%, Georgia 29%, Kentucky 29%, and Pennsylvania 28%.

For the small group market, among the ten states seeing the biggest increases are: Washington 588%, Pennsylvania 66%, California 37%, Indiana 34%, Kentucky 30%, Colorado 29%, Michigan 27%, Maryland 25%, Missouri 25%, and Nevada 23%.

You can follow Dr. Scott Gottlieb on Twitter @ScottGottliebMD. For more from the AEI health policy team, follow @AEIHealth.

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