Analysis Shows GOP Fear-Mongering On Obamacare Premiums Is Probably Bogus

ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Obamacare premiums look like they will increase modestly in 2015, at an average of 8 percent, according to an analysis released Wednesday based on publicly available information.

Avalere Health, an independent consulting firm, put out the report, which drew on initial 2015 premium filings in nine states. If the trend documented by Avalere holds, it would severely undermine the claims from Obamacare critics earlier this year that premiums would “skyrocket” in Year Two.

There was already isolated evidence that premium increases would be fairly tame, but Avalere’s analysis is the first comprehensive look at the public data currently available.

The increases will vary from state to state, Avalere found: from a 2.5 percent average in Rhode Island to 16 percent in Indiana. There also remains significant variation across states in flat price: The 2015 average in Oregon for a base plan is $272, while the average for the same plan in Vermont is $266.

Caveats do apply. Different states are having different experiences. It is also possible that the outlook could be different once other states release their filings, if they end up being significantly different than the trend in these nine states.

And premiums are going up. But it is difficult to connect those increases to Obamacare. As CNBC reported earlier this month, premiums in the individual market increased by an average of 10 percent between 2008 and 2010.

So as an early snapshot of the 2015 premiums, the Avalere report undercuts headlines from earlier this year that premiums would “skyrocket.” The analysis also does not account for the financial assistance available under the law.

Anonymous insurance executives warned that they might triple their rates in 2015. Some in the conservative blogosphere have sounded the same alarm. But it doesn’t look like those warnings have much merit — at least based on the early evidence.

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