Healthcare.gov

By Dan Keating and Jason Millman
November 15, 2014 at 6:59 PM

People shopping on the HealthCare.gov marketplace that reopened Saturday have more options this year than they did last year, but the options usually will be costlier.

Twenty-five states using the federal enrollment portal on average have higher premiums this year for the most popular level of health insurance plans — called “silver” plans — while nine states on average have lower prices this year for that level of coverage, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal data. New plans are typically slightly more expensive than existing ones, the analysis showed.

The calculations represent rough brushstrokes. Premiums can vary widely by state and county, reflecting the varying competitive situations facing insurers in different markets. Prices also differ based on the level of coverage purchased, family size, a customer’s age and tobacco use.

People who previously bought insurance through the federally managed Web site will be automatically enrolled in the same plan or a similar one if they don’t take action to change their coverage. Those consumers face an average price increase of 7 percent, or about $34 per month.

The Post’s analysis is based on a massive data file of premiums that federal health officials released Friday, about 12 hours before the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplaces opened for business. The premiums listed don’t take into account the sizable subsidies for which most consumers qualify. (Last year, subsidies reduced the average cost of a monthly premium to $82 for the 87 percent of shoppers on the federal exchange who received the financial assistance, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.)

In a broad summary of the most popular ”Silver” level plans across each state in the federal exchange, 25 states had premium increases and nine states had declines in the new exchange that opened Saturday, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.

The Obama administration is encouraging people who bought coverage last year to shop in the marketplace for a better deal. Many more plans were added this year than dropped, according to the data released by the administration. The data do not include the 16 states, plus the District of Columbia, that are running their own insurance marketplaces.

Price increases were largest for the most expensive plans, called “platinum” plans, sold on the marketplaces, according to the Post analysis. Premiums for the typical existing platinum plans rose 15 percent, or $111. Premiums for the less expensive silver and bronze plans rose 7 percent, or $34 and $27, respectively.

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