Open enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is in full swing, and an updated tool produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) sheds light on premium trends in California’s health insurance marketplace, Covered California. The tool displays what a 40-year-old at various income levels will pay in 2018 for Covered California’s least expensive gold, silver, and bronze plans.
The KFF tool is particularly helpful — and a nice complement to information on Covered California premiums that CHCF updated this week:
It shows what California consumers will pay toward premiums after premium tax credits. All Covered California consumers earning less than 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (about $48,000 a year for an individual) are eligible for financial assistance with monthly premiums. In Tulare County, for example, the full monthly premium for the lowest-cost silver plan is $514. However, a 40-year-old man earning $25,000 annually would pay only $80 a month after premium tax credits.
It shows how much premiums increased or decreased between 2017 and 2018. If we continue to use the example of the least expensive silver plan for a 40-year-old man earning $25,000 a year, we see that premiums stayed flat in San Bernardino County, decreased by 61% in San Joaquin County, and increased by 102% (or $40) in Merced County.
It displays premiums by county. We can see regional variation in premiums and compare California counties and those in other states. (Where premiums and benchmark amounts varied by zip code within a county, KFF used the benchmark for the majority of enrollees within the county.)
These data come amid news that Republican leaders are including a repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate in the US Senate’s tax plan. As we’ve already noted, the Trump administration’s decision to end federal payments for cost-sharing reductions has already increased the underlying premium rate for silver plans for 2018. Repealing the individual mandate would not only add to the confusion for consumers during the current open enrollment period, it would likely reduce Covered California sign-ups among younger, healthier consumers in future open enrollment periods. This would contribute to higher premiums for Covered California plans.
Amy Adams is a senior program officer for CHCF’s Improving Access team, which works to improve access to coverage and care for low-income Californians.
Prior to joining the foundation, Amy worked for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), leading a range of state and federal health care policy and research efforts. Her most recent work there focused on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), analyzing regulations and developing policy positions. Prior to that, she led a team working on Medicaid policy issues in California and other states, including public hospital and long-term care financing issues. Amy also brings program evaluation and assessment experience through her previous work as deputy director of a nonprofit research and policy organization and a private consultant to foundations, government agencies, and nonprofits. She received a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Yale College and a master’s degree in social welfare from the University of California, Berkeley.