ACA benchmark premiums hold steady: 3 findings

Although some insurance carriers on state health insurance exchanges have received approval for significant rate increases, the Affordable Care Act's benchmark premiums for the second-lowest-cost silver plans held steady, rising only modestly over the state exchanges' first three years, according to recent three-year analysis on exchange premiums released by PwC's Health Research Institute.

Here are three key findings from the analysis.

1. Benchmark premiums from the state exchanges' first three years increased a median annual 4.4 percent over the three-year period, according to the PwC analysis. The annual change in the average premium weighted by enrollment came in even lower, at 1.8 percent. That compared favorably to employer premiums, which have grown an average of 5 percent each year for the last 10 years.    

2. Between 2015 and 2016, growth in the second-lowest-cost silver plans was higher than the first two years of operation. According to PwC, this could be due to insurers adjusting premiums as they learn more about the healthcare spending of enrollees.

3. The three-year trend in the ACA market is consistent with an initial analysis conducted by HRI in 2014, which found premiums for state-based exchange health plans were comparable to — and in some cases lower than—those being offered by employers.

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