Sunday, October 30, 2016

Headline Premium Increases Do Not Reflect What Arizona Consumers Actually Pay


74 Percent of Arizona Consumers Can Find Marketplace Plans for Less than $75 Per Month
With Start of Window Shopping, Arizona Consumers Can Now Check Out Options for 2017 Coverage

With the November 1 start of Open Enrollment just days away, Arizona consumers can now visit to check out their options for 2017 coverage. A new report released today shows that 74 percent of Arizona Marketplace consumers will be able to find a plan with a premium of less than $75 per month, and 78 percent will be able to find plans with premiums below $100. The report also shows that Arizona consumers who come back to shop will have options, with an average of 4 plans to choose from.

“Thanks to financial assistance, the large majority of current Marketplace consumers in Arizona will be able to find plans with premiums between $50 and $100 per month,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “Many uninsured Arizonans could also qualify for financial assistance, as could 33,000 Arizonans currently paying full price for off-Marketplace coverage. I encourage anyone who might need 2017 coverage to visit and check out this year’s options for themselves.”

Thanks in significant part to the Health Insurance Marketplace, the share of Americans without health insurance is at its lowest level in history, and the share of Arizonans without health insurance stands at 10.8 percent, down 36 percent since 2010. This year’s Open Enrollment offers the chance to build on that progress and further improve access to care and financial security for Arizonans.

Financial Assistance and Shopping Help Keep Coverage Affordable for Arizona Consumers

74 percent of current Arizona Marketplace consumers are eligible for tax credits that bring down the cost of coverage, and, nationwide, about 85 percent of Marketplace-eligible uninsured Americans also qualify for tax credits. In addition, an estimated 33,000 Arizonans currently paying full price for health insurance in the off-Marketplace individual market could be eligible for tax credits if they purchase 2017 coverage through the Marketplace.

Tax credits increase dollar for dollar with the cost of a consumer’s benchmark plan, and so they protect the large majority of consumers from rate increases. For example, a 27-year-old in Phoenix, Arizona with income of $25,000 paid $143 per month to purchase the benchmark (second-lowest cost silver) plan in 2016. For 2017, a 27-year-old with income of $25,000 will pay almost the exact same amount ($142 per month), because, while benchmark premiums have increased, tax credits will increase to compensate.

Shopping also helps keep coverage affordable for consumers. If every returning consumer in Arizona selected the lowest-cost plan available within their current metal level, average premiums would increase by only $18 per month, or 11 percent, from 2016 to 2017. In fact, many consumers do not choose the lowest-cost plan available, because they are willing to pay more for a wider network or other plan features. But this calculation confirms that affordable options for 2017 coverage are available to consumers who shop around to find a better deal.

This year, Marketplace consumers in Arizona will be able to choose from an average of 4 health insurance plans. Arizonans will be able to choose among plans with different combinations of premiums, out-of-pocket costs, networks of hospitals and physicians, and prescription drug coverage options. For people with employer-sponsored health insurance, plan choice is typically narrower: for example, in 2015, 30 percent of people with employer coverage not only had just one issuer, but also just one plan option.

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