Skip to main content

Advanced Search

Advanced Search

Current Filters

Filter your query

Publication Types



Newsletter Article


Single Digit Rate Hikes Forecast for Health Exchange Markets

By John Reichard, CQ HealthBeat Editor

August 11, 2014 -- Supporters of the health law got some good news on two fronts in recent days, with a consulting firm reporting that 2015 insurance premiums in many states will remain in the single digits and Massachusetts announcing it will operate its own exchange next year.

The average rate increase across states reporting data is 7.5 percent, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, which based its estimate on preliminary information from 27 states and the District of Columbia. The consulting firm said 2015 also would bring more major commercial insurers into exchange markets.

But the firm also found that bellwether Blue Cross Blue Shield plans have submitted increase requests across the country typically above 9 percent. Rates aren't final at this point in many states.

Overall, the picture emerging for next year's exchange market lacks the kind of turmoil seen this year due to marketplace malfunctions. Still hanging over the future of the exchanges is a challenge to the legality of subsidies in states lacking their own marketplaces that could be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court.

One possible but long shot scenario would see the justices take up and invalidate an Internal Revenue Service rule authorizing the subsidies for people in 34 states served by the federal exchange, Almost 5 million people got such subsidies last year and could lose them if challenges succeed in the cases Halbig v Burwell and King v Burwell.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts announced that it plans to operate its own health insurance exchange next year, which would keep any adverse Halbig ruling from wiping out subsidies in the Bay State. Although it operated its own exchange this year, the Massachusetts online marketplace was so badly hampered by malfunctions that officials in May weighed a possible switch to while at the same time pursuing plans to remain independent.

In an announcement late last week, officials said they would drop contingency planning for a switch to Spokeswoman Claire Cooper said however that as part of the plan, Massachusetts is seeking approval for federal funding for the project. She had no immediate comment on whether plans could proceed without the money.

Publication Details