Study: ObamaCare premiums may see double-digit rise

 

A leading healthcare analysis group said Thursday that insurance premiums in some states might see double digit increases this year under ObamaCare, but not because of age discrepancies.

“Despite initial concerns about the age mix of exchange enrollees, the current age distribution appears to be close enough to plan projections to avoid driving major premium increases,” said Avalere Health in a new analysis.

However, the group said increasing cost of medical care, use of services and new technology will mean exchange plans will need to increase their premiums, and the hikes will vary state by state.

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Enrollees between the ages of 18 and 34 have been critical to Democrats' hopes of success for ObamaCare, as they are expected to balance costs to cover older and sicker enrollees.

Last month, the younger demographic was crucial in tipping enrollment numbers over 8 million. However, Avalere said young enrollment numbers are not uniform throughout the country, and success of the new healthcare law will depend on making sure they continue to enroll.

“Forty-five percent of D.C.’s roughly 11,000 enrollees [are between 18 and 34], while the corresponding percentage in West Virginia is only 19 percent,” noted Avalere. “Looking ahead to 2015, outreach efforts will need to ensure robust turn out of young adult enrollees in every state market."

The group also said the federal government will have to take on a disproportionate amount of the healthcare cost in states with larger populations that qualify for government healthcare subsidies.

“This ranges from 16 percent in Washington, D.C., to 94 percent in Mississippi,” says Avalere. “While this could dampen the need for plans to price premiums competitively, it could also lead [the Department of Health and Human Services] to consider a more active purchasing approach over time.”

Other findings of the report show more women were buying ObamaCare plans, but Hispanics lagged behind other ethnic groups in signing up. A surprising finding was that, despite conventional wisdom, younger adults were not just sticking to cheaper plans that offer less coverage but were buying gold and platinum plans as well.

“One reason may be that young families with children may be more likely to buy a plan in a higher metal level,” notes Avalere.