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Data questions predictions of sky-high 2016 health insurance rate hikes

Lower-cost silver plan premiums may see more modest increases

Reports that predict sky-high health insurance rates in 2016 may not tell the whole story, according to a new analysis from healthcare advisory firm Avalere.

In its analysis of proposed rate filings in the eight states that have complete data, the firm found that rate increases for silver plans under the Affordable Care Act--an option chosen by 68 percent of exchange enrollees in 2015--were set to increase a modest 5.8 percent.

Still, rate increases varied considerably by region, with a 5.3 percent projected decrease for Michigan on the low end and a 12 percent increase in Oregon on the high end.

Rate increases also were smaller for the lowest and second-lowest cost silver plans, as they were projected to rise just 4.5 and 1 percent, respectively, according to the report.

"While recent public attention has focused on a subset of plans that filed for premium increases of 10 percent or more, these data reveal that most plans are proposing more modest increases," Caroline Pearson, senior vice president at Avalere, said in a statement.

Across all categories of ACA plans, though, the average proposed premiums in 2016 are 12 percent higher than in 2015, according to the health insurance plan comparison website HealthPocket. For its analysis, it examined plans available in the most populous cities in 45 states, coming to conclusions that starkly contrast Avalere's. Gold plan rates, it said, could rise 16 percent, followed by silver plans at 14 percent, bronze plans at 9 percent. Platinum plan rates are expected to drop 8 percent.

Despite the high projected increases, "premium rates for 2016 Obamacare plans may change between now and November due to the rate review process and increased competition from other insurers," the report cautions. This has been the case in past years, but 2016 also is unique because insurers now have data from the previous year to back up their rate proposals to state insurance regulators, FireceHealthPayer has reported.

To learn more:
- check out the Avalere analysis
- here's the HealthPocket report

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