Double-digit increases proposed for ACA health insurance plans

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Illinois residents who buy health insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchange will likely see prices rise next year — in some cases by double-digit percentages.

Ten Illinois insurance companies that sell plans on the exchange, on healthcare.gov, are offering average rate increases of about 3% to nearly 16% for plans in 2023. Consumers can start shopping the November 1 for plans on healthcare.gov for next year. .

The state‘s largest health insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, are offering an average rate increase of 5.3%. Celtic Insurance Co., which sells plans called Ambetter, is offering an average rate increase of 13.7%. UnitedHealthcare of Illinois is offering an average rate increase of almost 16%.

Nearly 230,000 Illinois residents have individual plans under the Affordable Care Act through Blue Cross. About 54,000 people could be affected by the Celtic/Ambetter rate change, and about 5,500 with UnitedHealthcare could be affected, according to documents the insurers submitted with their proposals.

More than 320,000 Illinois residents have purchased health plans in exchange for 2022. Most Illinois residents receive health insurance through employment or government programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare .

Rates may vary depending on several factors. This year, for example, a 21-year-old non-smoker living in Cook County is paying about $242 a month, before any subsidies, for the cheapest Silver plan.

Blue Cross, Celtic and UnitedHealthcare blamed the proposed increases on rising medical costs, among other factors, in documents submitted with their proposals to ratereview.healthcare.gov. Proposals will likely be finalized in the coming months.

Blue Cross, Celtic and UnitedHealthcare had no comment on Monday.

Stephani Becker, associate director of healthcare justice at the Shriver Center on Poverty Law in Chicago, said consumers in Illinois should keep in mind that federal subsidies will once again help lower the costs of health insurance next year. Still, she said any increase was concerning.

“(The price of) everything is going up right now, so the last thing families in Illinois need is their health insurance costs going up again,” Becker said. “It’s so critical that our federal officials and our state officials do everything they can to get these costs under control.”

The increases follow years of falling prices and come amid uncertainty over the future of federal subsidies that help consumers offset the costs of insurance purchased through the Exchange Act. on affordable care.

Many people have long received subsidies to help reduce the monthly costs of insurance purchased through the Affordable Care Act exchange. In Illinois, 85% of people who purchased plans through the exchange in 2020 also received the grants, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Amid the pandemic in 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill making these grants more generous for many people and increasing the number of people eligible for them.

Now these enhanced grants are due to expire at the end of this year and revert to their previous settings. After much back and forth, Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-West Virginia, recently agreed to legislation aimed at addressing climate change that would also extend enhanced tax credits through 2025. The passage of the legislation , however, is still not guaranteed.

Proponents of the improved subsidies worry that if they disappear, many consumers could drop their health insurance coverage because it won’t be as affordable.

If the enhanced subsidies are not extended, people who earn more than four times the federal poverty level would no longer be eligible for the subsidies.

This means, for example, that in Illinois, a 40-year-old man who buys a silver level plan on the stock exchange and earns $51,521 a year could see his premium increase by around 15%, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family. Foundation. .

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