Florida insurance regulators unveiled on Monday the prices proposed by private insurers for individual plans to be sold on the Affordable Care Act exchange next year, with most companies planning to increase premiums by an average of 13.2 percent.
Fourteen companies filed ACA-compliant plans for the 2015 individual market, including three new companies that did not participate on the federally-run exchange last year.
Of the 11 returning plans, Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation reported eight filed average rate increases ranging from 11 to 23 percent, and three filed rate decreases ranging from 5 to 12 percent.
The average monthly premium for a silver-level plan — the most common type of health plan selected by the nearly 1 million Floridians who bought a plan on the ACA exchange for 2014 — ranges between $938 and $1,452 for a family of four earning $51,000, according to the state report.
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Many insurers increased premiums by double digits, just like the state's largest health insurer, Florida Blue, which announced last week that premiums would increase by an average of 17.6 percent for its exchange plans.
Florida Blue officials attributed price increases to higher-than-expected health costs as a result of attracting older adults this year who previously lacked coverage and are using more services than expected.
They also blamed regulations mandated under the health law, which forbids insurance companies from denying people with pre-existing conditions, limits the amount that they can charge their oldest members, and no longer allows them to charge women more than men.
A dearth of young and healthy enrollees also has contributed to the increases. About 30 percent of the 984,000 Floridians who signed up for a plan on the exchange is younger than 35, according to federal data.
Insurers emphasized that rates have been going up for years, even before the ACA, but unlike year’s past there was little that Florida insurance regulators could do to help.
That’s because Florida’s Republican-dominated legislature last year stripped the Office of Insurance Regulation of the power to negotiate rates with insurers for new health plans until 2016 — leaving that job to the federal government.
But while the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will review plans, federal officials do not have authority to approve a plan based on rates.
They can only evaluate plans to determine whether they meet the ACA’s standards, not whether the premiums are reasonable.
Until 2014, health insurance had been priced at a base rate that was adjusted for the insured's age, gender, health status and other factors.
Premiums could be increased by a factor of 10 or more for some individuals with existing conditions, or a rider could exclude coverage for the condition.
Starting January 2014, those rules no longer applied. Everyone could be covered regardless of health status. Women in their childbearing years would not pay higher premiums, and older people could not be charged more than three times the lowest premium's cost.
And consumers who qualify to buy a plan on the ACA exchange also could receive federal subsidies to help offset the costs.
About 893,000 people or 91 percent of Floridians who bought coverage on the exchange get a federal subsidy to lower their share of the premium, according to federal data.
This story was produced in collaboration with Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.