State health insurance premiums to increase

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Thousands of people who depend on healthcare subsidies from the government are in for a shock when they go to enroll for 2016 plans.

Rates for the Affordable Care Act’s “benchmark” plan — the second-lowest cost silver insurance plan — will increase an average of 7.5 percent in all states.

Pennsylvania premiums will increase by almost 11 percent, according to an analysis by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). More than 470,000 people in the state are enrolled in federal healthcare plans.

Fortunately, returning customers might not see the same spikes in their monthly premiums. The Department of Health and Human Services found that:

[N]early 8 in 10 of returning Marketplace consumers will be able to buy a plan for $100 or less in monthly premiums after tax credits in 2016. In addition, about 7 in 10 returning Marketplace consumers will be able to buy a plan for $75 or less in monthly premiums after tax credits in 2016.

In Allegheny County, silver plan premiums can range between $179 and $325. Individuals can price plans with a rate calculator on healthcare.gov, and can begin purchasing on Sunday.

Philadelphia County plans range from an estimated $264 to $381 monthly payment, an increase of more than 5 percent from last year, according to healthcare.gov and CMS.

These prices reflect the full cost per individual and do not factor in advanced premium tax credits available for people with incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty line.

CMS reports that more than eight in 10 people who signed up for an Affordable Care Act plan in 2015 qualified for subsidies.

Federal officials are reminding consumers to shop around even if they already signed up during one of the first two enrollment periods.

New analysis based on the second open enrollment found that those returning consumers who switched plans within the same ... tier saved an average of nearly $400 on their 2015 annualized premiums after tax credits as compared to those who stayed in their same plans.

People can check around on healthcare.gov’s rate reviewer to see the proposed increases for specific plans.

The states with the greatest increases are Oklahoma and Montana, at about 36 and 35 percent. Premiums in Indiana and Maine decreased by about 13 percent and 8 percent respectively.

The federal enrollment period begins Nov. 1.

Reach Stephanie Roman at sroman@publicsource.org. Follow her on Twitter @ShogunSteph.