1. 5527 POINTS
    Marlin McKelvy
    President, Consumer Directed Benefit Solutions, Memphis, Tennessee
    No one will be able to give you a perfect answer to this question until we have 2015 in the rear view mirror. Health insurance costs have always varied from state to state and ObamaCare has made the contrast between states quite stark in some cases. Combine this with the fact that how individual health insurance products were designed, rated and sold all underwent the biggest simultaneous change in the industry's history and you have a situation where the entire health insurance marketplace has been turned upside down and we have a very foggy situation.

    In general terms, most individual consumers should anticipate at least a 10% increase in their 2015 rates and be prepared to shop their coverage. Your results in your state may be quite different and it is not uncommon for some people to be receiving significantly higher rates increases.

    Rate filings for 2015 paint a confusing picture. Some state's are reporting very moderate 2015 rate changes but those were also often the same states whose 2014 rates jumped the most. So, perhaps these state's overpriced in year 1 of ObamaCare and the fact that they were only slightly off even then isn't exactly cause for cheer. Other states are seeing much higher rate increases for 2015.

    Another factor complicating the cost picture are the government health insurance marketplaces themselves. Because of government administrative policies, the insurance carrier who has the second lowest cost Silver level product in each marketplace sets the bar for the amount that the government's premium subsidy will be calculated to support. Owning this price point is a key competitive placement for the health insurance carriers in the marketplace. In year 1 this pricing position was usually held by a Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan or a national insurance carrier. In year 2, many of year 1's benchmark plans are now priced higher and have been replaced by a new plan and/or insurance carrier as the benchmark silver plan. And, in several states, the price leading plans in year 2 are experimental creations of ObamaCare called Co-Ops. These are non-profit programs that fill the role of a health insurance plan but are initially funded with Federal grant dollars. The year 1 track record of the Co-Op plans was mixed at best. Their year 2 positioning indicates a move to buy up market share quickly as the Federal grant dollars have a limited life span. Whether these experiments will be able to quickly develop the skills, financial reserves and enrollment base to allow them to survive independently is highly debatable.
    Answered on November 26, 2014
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