Some insurers aren't raising premiums next year, report finds


Insurers next year will be keeping premiums flat or even decreasing them in many parts of the country. In fact, consumers in just two states surveyed will see premium increases of 5 percent or more, according to a new study from the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Examining 2015 premium rates in 17 states plus the District of Columbia, the study determined that, on average, insurers in six states will lower premiums for silver plans and 10 states will see premiums increase by 5 percent or less.

Such small rate hikes are a result of increased competition as insurers vie against each other to sign up more consumers on the health insurance exchanges. Adding to competition next year are new exchange entrants like UnitedHealth, which is joining 24 online marketplaces across the country. In fact, Humana CEO Bruce Broussard predicted in September that the increase in insurers participating in exchanges would drive down prices for all plans, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

Particularly small premium increases, and even some reductions, primarily are in large cities like Baltimore, Denver, Minneapolis and New York City. Conversely, insurers are more often raising premiums in rural areas, including Tennessee, Michigan and West Virginia, the study found.

"The good news is that premium increases so far appear to be quite modest, but there are many changes taking place in these markets," Kathy Hempstead, who directs coverage issues at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said in a statement that was emailed to FierceHealthPayer. "Consumers will need to survey their options in the coming weeks to make sure they're getting the best deal, as the plan they're enrolled in now may not be the cheapest in 2015."

To learn more:
- here's the study

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