Proposed double-digit increase for ACA health insurance plans

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, which sell plans on the exchange at Health.gov, are proposing to increase the average rate for plans from about 3% to about 16% in 2023. Consumers can start shopping for plans for the next year on Health.gov on November 1. ,

The state’s largest health insurers, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, are proposing a 5.3% increase in the average rate. Celtic Insurance Company, which sells a plan called Embator, is proposing a 13.7% increase in the average rate. UnitedHealthcare of Illinois proposes an average rate increase of about 16%.

About 230,000 Illinois residents have plans for the Individually Affordable Care Act through Blue Cross. About 54,000 people could be affected by the rate change from Celtic/Ambator, and about 5,500 with UnitedHealthcare, according to the document insurers submitted with their proposals.

More than 320,000 Illinois residents bought health plans on the exchange for 2022. Most people in Illinois obtain health insurance through their jobs or government programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare.

Blue Cross, Celtic and UnitedHealthcare in documents submitted with their proposals on Healthcare.gov attributed the proposed increase to rising medical costs, among other factors. Proposals will be finalized in the coming months.

Blue Cross, Celtic and UnitedHealthcare did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.

Stephanie Baker, associate director of health care justice at the Chicago-based Shriver Center on Poverty Law, said Illinois consumers should keep in mind that federal subsidies will help reduce the cost of health insurance next year. Still, she said any increase is worrying.

“(The price) is going up everything right now, so the last thing Illinois families need is for their health insurance costs to go up again,” Baker said. “It is very important for both our federal representatives and our state representatives to do whatever they can to rein in these costs.”

Years of falling prices follow, and they come amid uncertainty about the future of federal subsidies that help consumers offset the cost of insurance purchased through the Affordable Care Act exchange.

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

In 2021 amid the pandemic, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law that makes those subsidies more liberal for many and expands the number of people eligible for them.

Now, those increased subsidies are expected to end later this year and go back to their previous standards. After much back-and-forth, Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-West Virginia, recently agreed to legislation aimed at fighting climate change that would extend the extended tax credits until 2025. However, the passage of the law is still not guaranteed.

Advocates of increased subsidies fear that if they disappear, many consumers may give up their health insurance coverage because it will no longer be as cheap.

If the increased subsidy is not expanded, people earning more than four times the federal poverty level will no longer be eligible for the subsidy.

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

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