Competition has dropped sharply since the first ACA enrollment season. Photo: Alex Brandon / AP

Every year before open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act begins, the Department of Health and Human Services puts out a report that details the available options and costs in the states using HealthCare.gov.

That report will come out later this morning, but I got a sneak peek. Here's where things stand for the upcoming enrollment period.

  • Competition is down no matter you slice it: Just 45% of enrollees live in areas with three or more competing insurers, down from 75% in the first open-enrollment window.
  • Roughly 30% of people who get coverage through the ACA will only have one insurance company to choose from next year, and 26% will only have two.
  • The average enrollee has a total of 25 specific plans to choose from — down from 30 last year and 51 during the first enrollment period.

Premiums are up — but so are subsidies.

  • HHS' data confirm that premiums will, in fact, be considerably higher for 2018 coverage. For the "benchmark" plans available to a 27-year-old consumer — plans that falls roughly in the middle of the road in terms of both coverage and costs — premiums are up, on average, by 37%.
  • Those increases are especially high because benchmark plans have borne the brunt of the drama surrounding the ACA's cost-sharing subsidies. Premiums for the cheapest plan available to that same 27-year-old are up a more modest (but still not small) 17%.
  • The ACA's premium subsidies, which are tied to the cost of those "benchmark" plans, will also much more generous next year. The average subsidy, across all enrollees, will be 45% higher than it was this year.
  • That hypothetical 27-year-old, making $25,000 per year, would see the value of her subsidies rise by 73%.
  • That means subsidized consumers could end up paying substantially less next year than they have in the past, and in many cases will be able to get more generous coverage for the same price. Unsubsidized consumers will pay substantially more every month.

Be smart: President Trump's decisions on cost-sharing subsidies have contributed to the law's rising premiums and the resulting rise in subsidies. But he's not responsible for all of this. Competition, for example, took a big hit last year — when President Obama was still in charge.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
52 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Japan's big new climate goal

Climate protest in Tokyo in November 2019. Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

Japan's new prime minister said on Monday the nation will seek to become carbon-neutral by 2050, a move that will require huge changes in its fossil fuel-heavy energy mix in order to succeed.

Why it matters: Japan is the world's fifth-largest largest source of carbon emissions. The new goal announced by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is stronger than the country's previous target of becoming carbon neutral as early as possible in the later half of the century.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: The swing states where the pandemic is raging — Pence no longer expected to attend Barrett confirmation vote after COVID exposure.
  2. Health: 13 states set single-day case records last week — U.S. reports over 80,000 new cases for second consecutive day.
  3. Business: Where stimulus is needed most.
  4. Education: The dangerous instability of school re-openings.
  5. World: Restrictions grow across Europe.
  6. Media: Fox News president and several hosts advised to quarantine.
2 hours ago - Podcasts

The art and business of political polling

The election is just eight days away, and it’s not just the candidates whose futures are on the line. Political pollsters, four years after wrongly predicting a Hillary Clinton presidency, are viewing it as their own judgment day.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the polls, and what pollsters have changed since 2016, with former FiveThirtyEight writer and current CNN politics analyst Harry Enten.