ShareThis Page
Premiums to rise for Obamacare’s most popular plans |

Premiums to rise for Obamacare’s most popular plans

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Health insurance premiums will go up next year for the most popular plans under President Obama’s health care law.

But it will take time for families to determine the best bang for their budgets, even as a bigger political battle brews over the program’s future.

For many people, government subsidies will cushion the hit. And there’s a new factor: returning customers who are savvy about health insurance and prepared to shop for a better deal.

Scott Joens of St. George, Utah, said he and his wife expect premium increases of about 18 percent for 2015. But instead of agonizing, he is looking for a plan with a higher deductible — the amount of medical expenses that consumers are responsible for each year before insurance kicks in.

By switching, Joens could lower his monthly premiums.

Joens, in his 50s and semi-retired from the pharmacy business, said he will worry if the trend continues.

“I still have some years until I am on Medicare. My worry is by the time I’m 65, who knows where this will be?”

Experts say numbers alone don’t tell the story.

“How all this shakes out will depend on one big wild card,” said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. “Will current enrollees become savvy shoppers or just sit back and stay in their current plans? This is a new program with no precedent, so there’s no way to predict exactly what will happen.”

In a departure from the process that officials followed last year, the administration has not released its own analysis of 2015 premiums. Instead, it published raw data, leaving it to independent experts to parse the numbers.

They are finding an overall trend of rising premiums.

The analysts have focused on “silver” plans, the coverage level picked by about two-thirds of the customers on and state-run health insurance markets.

The rise isn’t too far out of line with employer-sponsored plans, which cover about 150 million people and make up the biggest chunk of the health-insurance market. Costs in those plans are expected to rise about 4.6 percent on average next year, according to benefits consultant Mercer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.