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State ACA exchange rate changes vary wildly for 2017

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The median benchmark exchange plan premium will increase 16 percent in the 38 states, but the median may not have much to do with what’s happening in your state.

For an Affordable Care Act exchange plan, the benchmark rate is the “second-lowest silver premium” available in a market. That benchmark is important because managers of the ACA premium tax credit program use the benchmark to set subsidy levels.

Related: View: Cost of cheapest PPACA plans is soaring

In the states, the average cost of the second-lowest-cost silver plan will actually fall 3 percent in one state, Indiana, and rise 116 percent in Arizona.

Analysts at the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, a planning arm at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, have published those figures in a new 2017 rate snapshot.

The analysts also show how that benchmark rate increases could affect what a 27-year-old in a state will pay for 2017 exchange plan coverage.

In Indiana, the cost of benchmark plan coverage for a 27-year-old will fall to $229 from $235. The premium for a 27-year-old in Arizona will soar to $422 from $196.

Benchmark rates will rise in 37 states. In those, the benchmark rate will rise less than 10 percent in eight states and rise more than 50 percent in six states.

For a 27-year-old, the actual 2017 benchmark premium will range from a low of $219 in New Hampshire to a high of $760 in Alaska. 

That compares with a range of $175 to $590 this year.

In Florida,’s biggest market in terms of enrollment, the average benchmark rate will increase 14 percent to $347.

HHS analysts note that 85 percent of customers use ACA tax credits to help pay for the coverage and 59 percent get ACA cost-sharing reduction subsidies.

For consumers who qualify for both the premium tax credits and the cost-sharing reduction subsidies, the subsidy programs could eliminate most or all of the effect of the premium increases on what those low-income consumers pay out of pocket for coverage.


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