Skip to main content

Analysis

HealthCare.gov Premiums For 'Benchmark' Silver Plan to Fall 4% in 2020

By John Commins  
   October 22, 2019

However, HHS says health insurance remains largely unaffordable to non-subsidized consumers.

The average premium for a "benchmark" silver plan on HealthCare.gov for a 27-year-old will drop by 4% in the 2020 coverage year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced today.

In addition, 20 more health insurance companies will participate in the Federal Health Insurance Exchange in 2020, bringing to 175 the total number of issuers, up from 132 in 2018, CMS said.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the coming year's drop in premium prices follows a 1% decrease from 2018 to 2019.

"I said last year that President Trump, the president who was supposedly trying to sabotage this law, has been better at running it than the guy who wrote the law and that has remained the case this year," Azar told reporters during telephone conference call.

"In total, 27 out of the 38 states on the federal exchange are seeing decreases in the benchmark premium. There will be 175 issuers offering plans on the federal exchange and an increase of 20 issuers from 2019."

Related: Verma Touts 1.5% Drop in Benchmark Premiums for 2019

Azar said only two states will have a single health insurance plan in 2020, down from five states last year.

"The average enrollee will have 3.5 issuers available in 2020, compared with 2.8 issuers in 2019," he said.

Even with the expanded number of health plans, Azar said, ACA plans are largely unaffordable for most people without a subsidy.

"For instance, a 27-year-old single person buying the second-lowest cost Silver plan in Nebraska is going to pay $583 a month for coverage, down from $687 in 2019," he said. "Now that's real savings. But she's still going to be spending almost $7,000 a year on insurance premiums when she could be making as little as $48,000 in income, and she will still have a sizable deductible to spend through."

Six states will see double-digit percentage declines in benchmark silver plan premiums for 27 year olds including, Delaware (20%), Nebraska (15%), North Dakota (15%), Montana (14%), Oklahoma (14%), and Utah (10%).

CMS Administrator Seema Verma said that in recent years people who aren't eligible for tax credits "have been hit particularly hard and have found they simply cannot afford to keep their plan."

"Between 2016 and 2018 unsubsidized enrollment across the country declined by 2.5 million people, a 40% drop in just two years," she said. "It was inevitable that Obamacare's affordability crisis would eventually increase the number of uninsured, and that is exactly what the latest census data show."

"The fact is, 85% of the 1.9 million additions to the uninsured in 2018 occurred among people with income higher than 300% of the federal poverty line," she said. "These are people who do not qualify for large ACA subsidies and who now represent a new class of uninsured who can't afford Obamacare premiums."

Verma said a 55-year-old couple making $70,000 in Quincy, Florida would have to pay $31,000 a year for a Silver plan that comes with a $12,000 deductible.

"These are not affordable premiums," she said.

"In addition to increasing premiums," Verma said, "Americans had fewer choices. In 2016 to 2017, the number of issuers and states using Healthcare.gov declined from 237 to 167, and in 2018, the number dropped 132, a 44% drop during these last two years."

"These were the conditions the Trump administration inherited, and this is what people too often forget."

(To view the 2020 Health Insurance Exchange Premium Landscape Issue Brief, click here. To view the 2020 Plan Landscape Data, click here. To see the 2020 Health Insurance Exchange Public Use Files, click here.)  

“President Trump, the president who was supposedly trying to sabotage this law, has been better at running it than the guy who wrote the law and that has remained the case this year.”

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

The 4% drop in premium prices in 2020 follows a 1% decrease from 2018 to 2019.

Twenty additional insurers will participate in the Federal Health Insurance Exchange in 2020, bringing to 175 the total number of issuers, up from 132 in 2018.

The average enrollee will have 3.5 issuers available in 2020, compared with 2.8 issuers in 2019.


Get the latest on healthcare leadership in your inbox.