Average Premiums for Benchmark Obamacare Plans Will Drop in 2019
Health Care

Average Premiums for Benchmark Obamacare Plans Will Drop in 2019

Jonathan Bachman

The average premium for benchmark silver plans on Obamacare exchanges will fall by 1.5 percent next year, the Trump administration said Thursday. The decline is the first for this benchmark since the federal exchanges were launched in 2014.

The average premium for a benchmark silver plan in 2019 will be $406 a month, slightly below the $412 average for 2018 — but still significantly higher than the $240 average for 2016 or the $301 average for 2017. The 2019 average premium changes will vary widely by state, with Tennessee rates dropping by 26.2 percent and North Dakota seeing an increase of more than 20 percent.

The administration also announced that 23 more insurers will offer plans through the federal exchanges next year, and 29 insurers will expand their offerings into additional counties.

Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the decline in the benchmark premium “is proof positive that our actions are working.” But experts say that premiums are falling because insurers raised their prices so much in 2018 and are now so profitable that it would be hard for many of them to justify additional increases.

“Premiums would be even lower if not for repeal of the individual mandate penalty and expansion of short-term plans,” the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Larry Levitt tweeted, referring to Trump administration policies that he and others say undermine the stability of the Obamacare market.

Open enrollment for Affordable Care Act plans will run from November 1 to December 15.