What to make of the new ACA numbers

The roughly 10 million individuals who purchase insurance through the Obamacare exchanges received good new for 2020 premiums yesterday. An article from the WSJ elaborates

Average rates for the most popular, middle-priced plan will fall 4% in 2020 for a 27-year-old buying health insurance on the federal exchange, although premiums will vary widely by location, federal health officials said Tuesday. Rates had also declined 1.5% in 2019, after years of double-digit-percentage premium increases.

Additionally, 20 more insurance providers will participate in states that use the federal exchange, bringing the total to 175 issuers compared with 132 in 2018. Thirty-nine states used the federal exchange, healthcare.gov, in 2019.

One could draw a few conclusions from this. First, despite this good news, enrollment in the exchanges is declining, primarily among those who don’t receive premium subsidies. So while there will be more insurers and lower premiums next year, if you don’t get insurance from work and don’t qualify for subsidies, Obamacare is not working for you. 

Second, we need to ask what is contributing to this decrease in average premiums. One of the big reasons for the decline in average premiums was the success of state reinsurance programs. These were able to be implemented after states applied for the 1332 innovation waivers. Unfortunately, Congressional Democrats are trying to take away the ability for states to apply for innovation waivers to create state-based solutions. Be on the lookout for my column on this topic in the November issue of Carolina Journal.

Jordan Roberts / Health Policy Analyst

Jordan joined the Locke Foundation in the summer of 2018 as Health Care Policy Analyst. He analyzes state and national health policy issues with an eye toward removing governm...

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