Virginia health insurance premiums still too high for many clients, report says
Almost five years after the Affordable Care Act changes, Virginia is still struggling to contain the cost of premiums in the individual health insurance market.
A new report presented to the State Joint Commission on Health Care on Tuesday found that the average cost of money plans, a mid-tier option that typically includes a reimbursable fee, increased nearly 60% between 2016 and 2021, increasing the monthly price to over $ 200 for most customers.
The average cost of bounties for the Bronze and Gold plans has also increased, increasing by just over 37% for Bronze and 25% for Gold.
During the same period, listings in the Virginia healthcare market fell just over 20%. And prices remain high even though the cost of premiums has generally fallen during the pandemic – due to below-normal use of medical services. Without state intervention, analysts warn participation could continue to decline over the next several years as people struggle to pay higher premiums.
âAverage adult costs have increased dramatically,â said Stephen Weiss, senior health policy analyst for the commission. “And while there has been some decline, that is not enough to offset the impact of these increases.”
Most of the changes in registrations and costs can be attributed to actions at the federal level. In 2017, the Congress deleted the individual mandate, a key provision of the Affordable Care Act that required most Americans to purchase health insurance. While its removal did not reduce market participation as dramatically as many experts had predicted, uncertainty has driven up the cost of premiums – especially in virginia, where the average monthly price of silver plans increased by over $ 300 between 2017 and 2019.
In the same year, the federal government stopped paying insurance companies directly for subsidies offered to many low-income clients. As a result, many carriers have incorporated these costs into their premium fares. As prices began to rise, state analysts found younger, healthier people were starting to exit the market.
Over the past five years, enrollment declines have been steepest among Virginians aged 18 to 34. The expansion of Medicaid has contributed to some of the losses as more low-income people qualify for government-provided insurance. But among residents who are not eligible for the program, Weiss said many have moved on to bronze plans or has completely left the health care market.
The Virginia Mercury is a new, non-partisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and politics.
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