Next year on the federal exchange in Ohio average premiums for individuals are increasing by 13 percent for individuals and 11 percent for small business. According to the Ohio Department of Insurance, 16 companies will sell plans on the exchange with average premiums of $374.42 per month compared to $332.58 per month for the same coverage last year.
Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor (R), who is the director of the department, used this announcement as an opportunity to attack Affordable Care Act saying, “Continued and unnecessary headwinds out of Washington are making it more difficult for job creators, hard-working Ohioans and their families to purchase health insurance.”
While the steady announcement of specific rate increases in each state will matter for people actually using the exchanges and be used as a political weapon by either side this midterm, depending if that state’s numbers are good or bad, it is important to remember they really don’t tell us much how the law will function long-term.
Next year is still a unique circumstance. Insurance companies are making a one time adjustment based on how well their predictions lived up to the reality of enrollment this year. In addition, they are still benefiting from the temporary reinsurance and risk corridors programs which will soon disappear. It is too early to learn much one way or the other.
It will be a few more years before we have “proof” whether or not ACA exchanges do anything to reduce the growth of insurance premiums, but given the pathetic cost containment track record of other insurance exchanges I’m not holding my breath.
In the meantime it looks like Democrats will need to deal with at least a few not-great headlines this election cycle.