This week, we got the first snapshot of Texas Marketplace premium rates for next year, and the modest average premium increases come as welcome news.
Texans will see a 5 percent average premium increase for the second-lowest cost Silver-level plan (called the “benchmark” plan) in the Health Insurance Marketplace in 2016. The increase was 4 percent last year.
Importantly, the 5 percent average rate increase in Texas for 2016 is before subsidies are taken into account. Subsidies will diminish — and for some people, eliminate – the impact of rate increases on consumers. 85 percent of Texans enrolled in the Marketplace get subsidies that lower their monthly premiums by an average of $244 per month.
“Window shopping” for 2016 plans is available now – you can see the 2016 plans and prices. Open Enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace starts this Sunday, November 1, 2015, and runs through January 31, 2016.
Nationally, nearly 8 in 10 returning Marketplace consumers will be able to buy a plan with premiums less than $100 month with subsidies. About 7 in 10 returning consumers will be able to buy a plan for $75 or less in monthly premiums with subsidies in 2016. We strongly encourage consumers who currently have Marketplace coverage to go back to the Marketplace to compare 2016 plans. Because plans’ premiums change from year to year, in some cases, consumers may find a better rate by changing plans.
Our Countdown to Coverage 2016 guide to shopping for the best plan can help.
Rate changes will vary by plan and region. For example, the price of the second-lowest cost Silver-level plan decreased -0.3 percent in San Antonio between 2015 and 2016, but rose 10.6 percent in Austin. Rate increases for the benchmark plan were 4 percent in Dallas and 5 percent in Houston.
Texas has seen only modest Marketplace premium rate increases overall. In the years leading up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (2008-2010), the average national increase in premiums was 10 to 12 percent per year for plans consumers purchased directly from insurers.
Our Countdown to Coverage 2016 blog series can provide more assistance in selecting health plans for 2016.