Headlines say: Health insurance premiums through the Affordable Care Act Marketplaces will increase dramatically next year. Obamacare has failed to control premiums.
These are the scary warnings from the insurance industry and opponents of Obamacare. But I don’t refer to recent news stories. I’m talking about headlines from 2013 and 2014.
In both of those years we were told to be very afraid of coming double-digit health insurance premiums and it was all the fault of the Affordable Care Act.
But when the dire warnings of 2013 turned into actual premiums for 2014, the big increases didn’t materialize. Same thing happened after the 2014 alarm was sounded. The predictions were wrong for premiums in 2015. In fact, here is what the National Conference of State Legislatures said in January of 2015.
A new analysis of the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplace costs finds that, nationwide, marketplace premiums did not increase at all from 2014 to 2015, though there were substantial average premium increases in some states and declines in others. The average premiums for the second lowest-cost silver plan—or benchmark plan for calculating the federal subsidy in a given state—were also unchanged. And the average deductible for a marketplace plan increased by just 1 percent year to year.
The 0 percent change in average premiums is unprecedented when compared with historic trends in both the individual insurance market and employer-based health insurance. Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, from 2008 to 2010, premiums grew an average 10 percent or more per year in state individual insurance markets.
So here we are in 2015 and guess what the headlines are saying? That’s right. Health insurance premiums will skyrocket in 2016.
We’ve seen this all before and we know how it will end—relatively small premium increases overall.
Avalere Health has looked at all the data filed by insurance companies to date and concludes that plans will increase an average of 5.8 percent. That’s not a zero increase as last year but when you put all the average premium increases together from all the states since the health insurance marketplaces began, the Affordable Care Act has been a tremendous success in taming premiums hikes.
However, expect the same “be afraid, be very afraid” warnings around this time next year because they serve the political purpose of trying to demonize Obamacare with scare tactics not based in reality…or history.