Actuaries predict smaller jump in health insurance premiums next year | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Actuaries predict smaller jump in health insurance premiums next year

Posted By on Thu, Apr 17, 2014 at 8:53 AM

One health care prediction you can be pretty much certain will come true: premiums will be higher next year than they were this year. That's not because of Obamacare. Premiums have been going up annually for a very long time. The big question for 2015 is not whether premiums will go up, but how much. Critics of the health care law have been predicting that they will skyrocket. USA Today reports on a projection from the Society of Actuaries suggesting that the increase may be slower than what we were seeing before Obamacare: 

Statisticians working with insurers to project next year's insurance premium rates say they expect to see an average increase of about 7%, well below the feared double-digit increases making recent headlines.

"The double-rate increases we've been hearing are probably exaggerated," says Dave Axene, a fellow with the Society of Actuaries, adding that there would be wide variation across the country. "That's not what we're seeing from the actuarial organizations — I guess we're being a little bit more optimistic."

Axene says that as insurers dig through the new health exchange enrollees to figure out their ages and health conditions to determine next year's premiums, he expects an overall increase of 6% to 8.5%. He bases that on work he and others within the society have done with insurance clients. Before the Affordable Care Act, premiums rose an average of 7-10% a year.

We're in the conjecture phase, of course, and we'll know for sure later this year when 2015 plans are released.

"I think premiums are likely to go up, but at a smaller pace than what we've seen since 2010," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius predicted last month. Of course, no matter what, expect some of the law's critics to suggest that any increase between 2014 and 2015 is TRAINWRECK BECAUSE OF OBAMACARE (House Speaker John Boehner responded to Sebelius by tweeting out just the part about premiums going up). 

Again, premiums are going to go up. The question is by how much. If Axene's prediction is correct, it will be very good news for Obamacare. 

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