Higher Healthcare Costs and Closing Co-Ops on the Horizon for 2016

It’s no secret many Americans have faced challenges accessing affordable and fair health insurance through the federal and state health care exchanges. Being unable to see necessary doctors, dealing with high premiums and deductibles, and understanding what’s covered under each plan are just a few issues our members have experienced when shopping for coverage through their state exchanges. In addition to these issues, closing co-ops, and higher premiums appear on the horizon for the state exchanges in 2016.

Co-ops were created under the Affordable Care Act as an alternative insurance option to corporate health insurers. Hoping to produce competition with the larger health insurance companies, co-ops encouraged affordable prices and lower premiums. Now these co-ops are beginning to shut down. In fact, 12 of the 23 created insurers in 2014, nearly a third, are shutting down. This will force over 500,000 enrollees to look for a new health care plan in 2016. New York, Colorado, Kentucky and South Carolina are just some of the states experiencing failing and closing co-ops.

State exchange customers have voiced issues with the health exchange, especially high premiums and out-of-pocket costs, long before the co-ops shut down. Closing co-ops will likely bring even higher costs and limited plan choices for enrollees. According to the Wall Street Journal, 60 percent of enrollees will see the average rate for premiums in the Silver Plan rise by 6.3 percent. Some states are expecting premiums to jump by double-digit percentages--Alaska’s Silver Plan premiums will rise by 31.5 percent and Oklahoma will see a 35.7 percent hike.

The Obama Administration reports that costs will still be manageable even with increased premiums and closing co-ops; 80 percent of returning customers will be able to buy plans with premiums under $100. Current enrollees are encouraged to revisit the website, review their health plans, and choose a new plan if theirs has closed, or if they want to switch plans to cut costs. Federal health officials have also announced new online tools to help current and future enrollees search for plans that cover their current doctors and preferred healthcare providers.

Community for a Healthy Exchange works to make sure you have the most up-to-date information and news on changes taking place within the state healthcare exchanges. Working together, we can ensure families and patients have access to fair and affordable health insurance.

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