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Here’s how 11 markets are planning to change health insurance premiums in 2016

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Is PPACA making health insurance premiums more affordable?

This was, after all, one of the core missions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, now more firmly entrenched than ever in the wake of the King v. Burwell ruling. It’s also the question asked by a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study. Kaiser has been tracking this trend since September 2013.

The Foundation’s study is not comprehensive, but it’s as comprehensive as you can get based on the data available. Analysts looked at the 10 states plus the District of Columbia that have filed projected rates for the lowest-cost plans for all insurers selling through the exchanges. They focused on silver plans because they are the basis for federal premium subsidies and because these are the plans that most marketplace enrollees (68 percent) have chosen.

What did they find? Despite some early rumble about double-digit rate increases, the data to date shows that the average premium increase is moderate. In these 11 markets, the average premium was 4.4 percent higher in 2016 than in 2015. Insurer participation, too, looks to remain fairly steady next year. Two markets (Washington, D.C. and Michigan) saw a loss of one insurer. Three markets (Maine, Oregon and Washington) will have increased competition next year due to new carriers entering the marketplace.   

There are outliers, of course. Despite the middle-of-the-road average, premium changes for 2016 will in some cases vary significantly across areas and insurers. Even in this small study sample, benchmark premiums for the second-lowest silver plan range from a 16.2 percent increase in Oregon to a 10.1 percent decrease in neighboring Washington state.

Moreover, it’s important to note that this data is complete, but not final. Proposed rates are still subject to inspection from state insurance regulators, and could change before the open enrollment period begins on Nov. 1. 

That said, here’s how 2016 monthly health insurance premiums are currently shaping up for a 40-year-old non-smoker making $30,000 a year and enrolled in the second-lowest cost silver plan. The premiums listed fall in the rating area that includes a major city in each state.

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1. Connecticut (Hartford)

2nd lowest cost silver before tax credit: $328

Percent change from 2015: 2%

2nd lowest cost silver after tax credit: $208

Percent change from 2015: 0.2%

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2. D.C. (Washington)

2nd lowest cost silver before tax credit: $248

Percent change from 2015: 2.8%

2nd lowest cost silver after tax credit: $208

Percent change from 2015: 0.2%

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3. Maine (Portland)

2nd lowest cost silver before tax credit: $290

Percent change from 2015: 2.9%

2nd lowest cost silver after tax credit: $208

Percent change from 2015: 0.2%

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4. Maryland (Baltimore)

2nd lowest cost silver before tax credit: $246

Percent change from 2015: 4.6%

2nd lowest cost silver after tax credit: $208

Percent change from 2015: 0.2%

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5. Michigan (Detroit)

2nd lowest cost silver before tax credit: $226

Percent change from 2015: -1.8%

2nd lowest cost silver after tax credit: $208

Percent change from 2015: 0.2%

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6. New Mexico (Albuquerque)

2nd lowest cost silver before tax credit: $190

Percent change from 2015: 11.0%

2nd lowest cost silver after tax credit: $190

Percent change from 2015: 11.0%

Editor’s Note: Unsubsidized Albuquerque premiums are so low that a 40-year-old making $30,000 per year would not qualify for a premium tax credit in 2016.

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7. New York (New York City)

2nd lowest cost silver before tax credit: $374

Percent change from 2015: 0.5%

2nd lowest cost silver after tax credit: $208

Percent change from 2015: 0.2%

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8. Oregon (Portland)

2nd lowest cost silver before tax credit: $248

Percent change from 2015: 16.2%

2nd lowest cost silver after tax credit: $208

Percent change from 2015: 0.2%

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9. Vermont (Burlington)

2nd lowest cost silver before tax credit: $476

Percent change from 2015: 9.2%

2nd lowest cost silver after tax credit: $208

Percent change from 2015: 0.2%

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10. Virginia (Richmond)

2nd lowest cost silver before tax credit: $288

Percent change from 2015: 10.8%

2nd lowest cost silver after tax credit: $208

Percent change from 2015: 0.2%

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11. Washington (Seattle)

2nd lowest cost silver before tax credit: $228

Percent change from 2015: -10.1%

2nd lowest cost silver after tax credit: $208

Percent change from 2015: 0.2%