The federal Affordable Care Act exchange is experiencing another increase in premiums, but generous subsidies will shield the majority of consumers from increased costs.
According to a report released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Wednesday, the average monthly premium for a benchmark silver plan will increase by 4% for 2024 in the 32 participating states in healthcare.gov. This is the same as this year's increase, which followed four years of consecutive premium declines.
The federal exchange will open for window shopping on Wednesday, when consumers can begin comparing Affordable Care Act policies. Open enrollment begins November 1 and continues through January 15; however, if you want to start coverage at the beginning of the new year, you must sign up before December 15.
The Biden administration has lauded the growth in Obamacare registration since President Joe Biden assumed office at the beginning of 2021. A record 16,4 million people signed up for coverage in 2023 during the last period of open enrollment, a 36% increase over 2021 open enrollment.
Now that the states can review Medicaid eligibility for their residents and terminate coverage for those who are no longer considered eligible, more Americans could be interested in Obamacare. KFF reports that at least 9,3 million people were disenrolled.
Anyone who has lost Medicaid, and lives in a state that uses the federal exchange, can enroll at any time until July 2024. The majority of state-based exchanges offer similar special enrollment dates. Low-income enrollees may qualify for subsidies to eliminate their premiums and reduce their out of pocket costs next year.
The enhanced subsidies were first enacted in 2021 under the American Rescue Plan Act and extended last year under the Inflation Reduction act, both of these were passed by Democrats. The enhanced assistance, which lowers premiums by no more than 8.5% a policyholder’s income, is available until 2025.
Approximately 96% of those who chose plans for 2023 during the open enrollment period on the federal exchange were eligible for expanded subsidies. Approximately two thirds of current policyholders can find plans that cost less than $10 per month in the coming year if they stay within their coverage level.
On average, 4 out of 5 consumers can find plans at the federal exchange that cost $10 or less per month.
The average consumer will be able to choose between just over seven insurers.
Insurers will be required to include rural emergency hospitals, mental health centers, and substance abuse treatment centers in their network of providers for the first time. The Obamacare application includes optional questions about sexual orientation and gender identification in order to analyze disparities in access to coverage.
After submitting a request, consumers can now get an estimate of the total annual costs they will pay - including out-of pocket costs and premiums - to help them compare plans.
The Administration is providing grants of nearly $99 Million to 57 navigator group to help them conduct outreach to consumers and assist with enrollment in plans.
Open enrollment for states that run their own Obamacare exchanges begins on November 1 except in Idaho where it begins on October 15.