Oct 12, 2018 - Health

ACA premiums expected to drop for the first time

Data: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios
Data: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

“Affordable Care Act premiums are going down” is a headline no one's ever seen before, so it’s no surprise the Trump administration is trying to take credit for the change.

Driving the news: The administration announced yesterday that premiums for a "benchmark" plan will drop by an average of 1.5% next year in the federally run ACA marketplaces — the first time that’s happened since it launched.

  • The fine print: This is the average premium for a 27-year-old single nonsmoker. Actual premiums will vary based on your age and where you live.

What they're saying: Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said premiums are lower because the Trump administration has approved several state reinsurance programs — and opened the door to cheaper options like short-term plans and association health plans.

Reality check: Reinsurance has almost certainly held premiums down. But short-term plans, like the nullification of the individual mandate, aren't contributing to lower ACA premiums. State regulators have said their premiums would be lower without those policy changes.

  • Insurers also priced a lot of those expensive policies into this year's premium hikes, which averaged out to a whopping 37%. Having those increases in the bank is part of the reason premiums can go down now.
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