Prices rise for most popular O-Care plans

The average price of the most popular ObamaCare health insurance plans rose 10 percent for 2015, according to a new study of premium figures published Friday by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Consulting firm Avalere Health analyzed the monthly price of the lowest-cost silver plan in each region. Twenty-eight percent of all marketplace enrollees chose the lowest-cost silver plan available to them.

The firm emphasized that marketplace enrollees could see their monthly costs rise for several reasons.

{mosads}Not only are premiums increasing, but if consumers do not pick a different plan, they could pay more due to annual changes in how subsidies are calculated.

“This is a competitive market dynamic and many plans that priced attractively last year are playing catch up for 2015,” said Dan Mendelson, CEO at Avalere Health, in a statement. “Consumers who care about costs need to shop.”

The report underscores the complicated nature of out-of-pocket costs for ObamaCare plans for people receiving subsidies.

The credits are calculated annually based on the price of the second-lowest-cost silver plan in each region, or the “benchmark” plan, which varies year to year.

People who find that their plan is suddenly more expensive than the benchmark policy have to pay the difference dollar for dollar.

Only a handful of regions will see their benchmark plans remain the same for 2015, meaning that many people who receive subsidies will face higher prices if they do not pick another plan.

At the same time, few analysts expect enrollees to log back on to the exchanges to comparison shop. Insurers can automatically re-enroll consumers who do not choose a different plan, and federal subsidies remain the same for that group.

“Consumers who return to to shop will find lower-cost alternatives available,” said Elizabeth Carpenter, director at Avalere Health, in a statement.

“However, based on experience from other markets, we expect that many people will not return to the exchange website and will remain in the same plan.”

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