Insurance Premiums in California Are Expected To Rise

Covered California stated today that premiums for health insurance plans purchased via the state marketplace will rise by an average of 6% next year.

Since the beginning of 2019, California has had its greatest rate increase. Insurers have maintained average hikes under 2% for the last three years.

In Imperial, Inyo, and Mono counties, rates increased by 11.7%, whereas in Fresno, Kings, and Madera counties, rates remained unchanged.

A person’s financial assistance often rises in tandem with an increase in premiums. Subsidies, which are determined by a person’s household income, may help to mitigate the rise. But the tariff increase will be fully borne by those who do not qualify for government assistance.

As Covered California’s executive director Jessica Altman put it, “Premiums are a capture of what health care prices are, how they vary across geographies and communities, and how health care expenses grow over time.”

This is still lower than the rate hikes experienced by most other states, she remarked. 72 insurers in 13 additional states have suggested an average rate rise of 10%, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation report.

Doctor visits and procedures that had been put on hold during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak are now being resumed, according to Altman. Inflation is another factor to consider.

The federal government’s boosted subsidies, which are slated to expire at the end of the year, are responsible for about one percent of the rise. Without the increased funding, prices will rise, resulting in a decline in coverage for younger, healthier people. Premiums rise as a result of fewer healthy persons in the market.

The federal government’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2013 authorized $3 billion for two years of additional financial aid for California’s Covered California health insurance program. More people signed up for health insurance as a result of the new law, which reduced premiums even lower. There was also an expansion of who was eligible for savings.

The state marketplace currently serves 1.7 million Californians. Approximately 1 million people will have their premiums more than double, and an additional 220,000 will be forced to abandon their insurance if Congress does not renew the American Rescue Plan subsidies, according to Covered California’s estimates.

In other words, “(the rate increase) for the subsidized population is almost separated from what they pay out of pocket.” Think tank senior economist Christine Eibner says the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act subsidies are more crucial.

Consumers will be less confused if Congress acts sooner rather than later, according to Altman. Before the open enrollment season, Covered California sends renewal reminders to participants in October, and having clarity for individuals at that time is critical.

“Both ways have been mentioned — ‘Will it is permanent?’ Is this a one-time thing? Is it likely to remain in this form? … Or will it need to be tweaked?’ Asked about the Washington, D.C., debates, Altman said, “And we don’t know,” he said.

If Congress does not renew the aid, California’s 2022-23 budget provides $304 million for middle-class marketplace enrollees. Altman said it would be helpful, but it wouldn’t be enough to cover the $1.7 billion in federal money that would be cut each year.

Covered Aetna CVS Health, a new entrant to the California insurance market, has also been announced as a choice for residents of El Dorado, Fresno, Kings, Madera, Placer, Sacramento, and Yolo counties, according to the state. Anthem Blue Cross plans to expand into San Diego County, as well, according to the company.