Ron Bliss: Early returns on rates for 2016 look encouraging; Little change

We won’t see the full picture until this fall in Nevada, but if actions by Covered California and, more locally, Hometown Health of Reno are any indication, health insurance premiums should rise very little.

Covered California announced on Tuesday that rates for 2016 will increase by just 4 percent next year – even less than the 4.2 percent rise for 2015.

A press release from Covered California explained: “This means the majority of Covered California consumers will either see a decrease in their health insurance premiums or an increase of less than 5 percent if they choose to keep their current plan. In addition, consumers can reduce their premiums by an average of 4.5 percent, and more than 10 percent in some regions, if they shop around and change to a lower-cost plan within the same metal tier.

“This is another year of good news for California’s consumers and further evidence that the Affordable Care Act is working,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “Covered California is holding the line on rates and keeping coverage within reach of hundreds of thousands of consumers, while giving them more choices than ever before.”

Meanwhile, Hometown Health announced last week that, effective Oct. 1, 2015, Hometown Health’s Washoe County Small Group PPO rates are decreasing an average of 10 percent and the HMO rates are decreasing an average of 9.6 percent.

I have argued before that healthcare premiums are subject to the law of supply and demand. As the pool of health plan members steadily increases, there is more money flowing into the insurance company and the impact of sick individuals who use their plans frequently is watered down by the sheer volume of the premium money flowing in.

Before the ACA, healthcare premiums were rising much more quickly because those who were not sick were dropping their plans rather than pay for something they may not need. As prices of policies rose, more and more dropped them, the impact of the sick folks who had to pay for the plans increased and, consequently, forced prices higher and higher. The ACA was designed to reign in the rise in premiums and, so far so good.

With subsidies from the government making it possible for millions, who could not afford health insurance before, signing up and contributing to the system the crazy upward spiral has been stopped.

Rates in Nevada should be made available sometime in October.

While open enrollment is closed, those with a change of life can still get plans. Among the reasons that would allow enrollment now include loss of insurance, change in marital status, a birth or death in the family, change in income through promotion or loss of a job or if they have moved out of a coverage area. If you feel you might qualify, contact us at Affordable Healthcare Pros at 775-224-7169, 775-450-6769, 775-450-6867 or 775-450-7754. We are located at 2307 N. Carson Street in Carson City. Feel free to drop by and see if we can help you. There is no charge for our services.

Ron Bliss is a former sports writer who has been working in the health insurance field since 2009. He is certified on both the Nevada Health Link and Covered California and also offers a variety of low-cost Medicare supplement plans in both states, as well as other types of supplemental health insurance to include critical illness, dental, vision, hearing and life insurance.


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