ACA Individual Premiums Level Off But Remain Sky-High
Premiums for unsubsidized Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual health insurance policies appear to be stabilizing after three years of double-digit percentage gains, according to eHealth’s new Health Insurance Index Report for 2019.
Even so, the cost of coverage in the individual market remains punishingly high, particularly for middle-income consumers who earn just too much to qualify for government subsidies. The average unsubsidized monthly premium is more than 400 percent higher than the average premium paid by consumers in the ACA market who receive federal subsidies.
Data presented in eHealth’s report reflect plan selections made by individuals who bought coverage through eHealth during the 2019 ACA open enrollment period, which ran from November 1, 2018 through December 15, 2018.
According to the eHealth report:
- $448 was the average monthly premium paid for individual plans selected by unsubsidized eHealth customers for the 2019 plan year. That represents an increase of 1.8 percent over 2018. In the preceding three plan years, average individual premiums shot up by 16 percent, 18 percent and 12 percent, respectively. Since the inception of the ACA in 2014, average individual premiums for unsubsidized individuals have increased 65 percent.
- By comparison, $87 was the average individual monthly premium after subsidies were applied for consumers enrolling in ACA plans through Healthcare.gov, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
- For people buying ACA plans at eHealth, premiums dropped year-over-year for Platinum, Silver and Catastrophic plans, but rose modestly for Gold and Bronze.
- The premium price gap between Silver and Bronze plans fell to 9 percent in 2019, down from 27 percent in 2014.
- 2019 marked the first significant drop in average annual deductibles for individual unsubsidized coverage, falling 5.6 percent from $4,578 in 2018 to $4,320 in 2019.
- Women picked more expensive plans than men, with monthly premiums of $465 versus $431 for men. The ACA prohibits health insurance companies from charging women more than men for coverage under the same plan. The divergence reflects a tendency among women to select plans with higher monthly premiums and presumably richer benefits.
- Policy holders ages 55 to 64 pay $520 per month more, on average, than people between the ages of 18 and 24. $799 was the average monthly premium for individuals age 55 to 64; while those 18 to 24 paid an average of $279 per month.
eHealth is one of the few organizations that publishes costs and trends about ACA consumers who earn too much to qualify for federal subsidies designed to mitigate the cost of ACA insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.
For more on the ACA market for consumers who do not qualify for subsidies under the ACA, see eHealth’s Health Insurance Price Index Report.