What Can Consumers Expect for 2017 Health Care Premiums?

Health insurance premiums are expected to increase in 2017. An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation reveals benchmark silver plan premiums in Affordable Care Act marketplaces are projected to increase by 10 percent for 14 major metropolitan areas.

There are multiple reasons for the proposed increase in premiums, according to Dr. Mark Shields, a senior advisor for a national consulting firm.

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“It’s really a mark of success that millions have participated, but one of the challenges is that more people who are considered higher risk have signed up because they need the care, but then that puts pressure on the premiums,” Shields said of the ACA. “There is expected to be an adjustment because the insurance companies priced the product too low. The other reason is that the administration allowed more plans to be grandfathered in so it kept some low-risk people from going into the exchange.”

Consumers concerned about the rate increases should keep in mind that the requested hikes need approval by the state before they could go into effect on Nov. 1, Shields added.

They should also remember that they have options.

“Consumers need to shop,” Shields said. “What happens is one year to the next, the lower price plans change. If you stay in it, you might end up paying more. It’s possible consumers may have to change doctors but not definite.

“There’s something called ‘narrow network.’ It’s providers working with plans to make health care accessible and more affordable,” Shields explained. “It can be an option for some people. If you smoke, you need to stop because it’s costing you more to be a smoker.”

The cost of higher premiums can be offset with tax credits offered through the ACA, Shields said, adding that 80 percent of people receive some type of tax credit.

While more than half of states have disclosed how much their health care premiums could be for 2017, Illinois won’t make that information available until Aug. 1 despite submitting rate plans in April.

Shields joins Bruce Japsen, health care and policy reporter for Forbes, to talk about what else consumers can expect.

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