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Health insurance premium increases likely to settle next year

Health Care and Health Insurance
by Heather Robinson
Health insurance premium increases likely to settle next year
Health insurance premium increases likely to settle next year

One of the biggest issues that many consumers faced this year, as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's coverage mandate was put into place and brought millions into the health insurance pool, is that premiums for such plans took appreciable steps forward. However, it now seems as though those increases aren't going to be an annual issue, as new rate filings from policy issuers are much more in line with those seen prior to the law's implementation.

Most of these filings show that early rate increases for 2015 could be in the neighborhood of about 10 percent, down considerably from those in the realm of between 20 percent and 30 percent since the ACA was passed, according to a report from NBC News. Industry experts say that the huge rate hikes seen in recent years aren't likely to be around much longer in general, and when they do hit, they will be far less frequent than they have been in the past.

Those in the industry further note that the reason for this is that the ACA built a number of conditions into the law which state that the government will have more regulatory control over such changes, and that it's intended to foster greater competition among insurers overall, which in turn will likely lead to them creating better deals for consumers, the report said. That competition may actually be the biggest reason companies don't significantly boost premiums in the coming years; Larry Levitt, an insurance expert for the Kaiser Family Foundation, told the news agency that many companies may now be concerned about losing customers en masse if premiums take huge steps forward that are not commensurate with those in the rest of the market.

What could continue to increase premiums?
Of course, even if costs don't rise as appreciably as they did in recent years, they're still likely to keep going up overall, the report said. That's because the ACA allows more access for those with pre-existing conditions to health care coverage, and that will tend to have an inflationary effect on the coverage costs for the entire pool of enrollees overall.

Insurers who can do more to make the processes behind rate increases more transparent may be the ones that can best connect with consumers in the new coverage ecosystem overall. That, in turn, could help to buoy revenues at a time when costs are generally going up.



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