Premiums for the lowest-cost ‘silver plans’ offered through insurance marketplaces increased 2.9 percent nationally, on average, from 2014 to 2015, according to a new issue brief. The brief, prepared by researchers at the Urban Institute with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, finds that increases were generally modest, and in some cases, premiums decreased in cost. The brief provides information on the change in price for the lowest-priced silver plans in 2014 and 2015 for every state and rating region in the U.S., as well as in select major cities and rural areas.
On average, plan costs rose least in the West, with an average increase in the lowest-cost silver plan premium of just 1.4 percent. Premiums in the South increased the most, with lowest-cost silver premiums increasing an average of 5.4 percent.
Premiums in the 40 selected cities tend to be lower, and most grew more slowly than average premiums in their states, while premiums in rural areas tend to be higher than their state averages—with some increasing faster and some slower than their state average.
“In many markets, premiums for the lowest-cost silver plan generally increased only modestly, and in some cases actually dropped,” said Kathy Hempstead, who directs coverage issues at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “In many cases, however, lower premiums were offset by higher cost-sharing for health care services and prescription drugs, so consumers considering switching needed to think about more than premiums.”