PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — If you are one of the 426,000 Pennsylvanians who get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, there is good news and bad news.
Insurance rates are going up next year, but not as high as earlier years, with insurance companies asking for an average rate hike of 6.7 percent for small group plans and 8.8 percent for individuals, the PA Insurance Department reported today.
“We’re not seeing as much of the double digit rate increases that we’ve seen in the past,” says Antoinette Kraus with the PA Health Access Network.
“Pennsylvania’s individual market is stabilizing,” says Teresa Miller, the state’s insurance commissioner, “and the current rate requests we see, which are in line with the annual trend in medical costs, are proof of this.”
But the highest rate increase requested comes from local insurer, Highmark, which wants a 19.65 percent hike.
In contrast, UPMC Health filed for the lowest increase — zero percent.
Highmark defended the increase, noting its Obamacare members are older with more chronic conditions, with 55 percent more cancer, 48 percent more heart disease, and 26 percent more lung disease.
In a statement, Highmark said, “Despite our rate request, in western Pennsylvania, the ACA premium levels are among the lowest in the nation.”
Defenders of the Affordable Care Act say it’s no surprise rates go up since formerly uninsured people like those with pre-existing conditions are now covered, but most get a tax break.
“In Pennsylvania, 80 percent of the folks enrolling in the market place, whether it’s in a Highmark plan or another plan receive tax credits to make insurance more affordable,” Kraus told KDKA money editor Jon Delano. “A lot of times it offsets significant rate increases.”