A new report detailing affordability and plan choice in the Health Insurance Marketplace finds that with applicable tax credits, 70 percent of Virginia enrollees...

A new report detailing affordability and plan choice in the Health Insurance Marketplace finds that with applicable tax credits, 70 percent of Virginia enrollees could find plans for $75 in premiums per month or less after tax credits; and 76 percent could find plans for $100 in premiums per month or less after tax credits.

Virginia consumers who return to the Marketplace to comparison shop could save money. According to today’s report, 72 percent of returning Virginia Marketplace consumers could save an average of $326 annually in premiums before tax credits for a plan in the same level of coverage by returning to shop. Nationwide, if all consumers switched from their current plan to the lowest-cost premium plan in the same metal level, the total savings – to consumers and taxpayers (in premiums and tax credits) – would be $4.5 billion.

“Open Enrollment starts Sunday, and new and returning Virginia customers will find quality health coverage at prices that fit their budgets,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said. “Nationwide, nearly eight in 10 Marketplace-eligible uninsured consumers can qualify for tax credits to help make premiums more affordable, and in Virginia 70 percent of returning enrollees could find plans for $75 or less in premiums per month after tax credits.”

Today’s report includes information on affordability and choice for consumers living in the 37 states that used the HealthCare.gov platform in 2015 and 2016.

Affordability

In 2015, roughly 85 percent of Marketplace consumers nationwide received tax credits to make their coverage more affordable. In 2016, a 27 year old in Virginia with an income of $25,000 a year will on average get a tax credit of $97 a month – compared to $87 in 2015. A typical family of four with an income of $60,000 will on average receive a tax credit of $463 a month – compared to $427 in 2015. Marketplace tax credits are structured so they keep pace with premium increases in the benchmark silver plan (see page 9 of the ASPE analysis for a detailed description of how premium tax credits work).

Across all markets in the 37 states HealthCare.gov states, the cost of the benchmark plan will increase an average of 7.2 percent. In Virginia the cost of the benchmark silver level plan will increase by 4 percent. This rate increase does not account for the benefit provided by tax credits to eligible consumers. States that had below-average premiums in 2015 tended to have higher premium increases in 2016.

Choice

According to today’s report, in Virginia consumers can choose from 11 issuers and an average of 35 plans in 2016. Previous research shows that price competition typically intensifies with three or more competitors in a market.

Across all states using HealthCare.gov, 9 out of 10 returning consumers will be able to choose from 3 or more issuers for 2016 coverage. And on average, consumers can choose from 5 issuers for 2016 coverage, just as they could for 2015 coverage.

In Virginia there are 6 more plans on average than in 2015 for consumers to choose from. On average, each issuer has the same number of plans in 2016 as in 2015.

To read today’s report, visit: http://aspe.hhs.gov/pdf-report/health-plan-choice-and-premiums-2016-health-insurance-marketplace