How high will health premiums climb in 2015? Early estimates are in

health insurance premiums

The question isn’t if you’ll pay more for your health plan next year. The question is: How much more you’ll pay? 
Well, the early figures are in. And they’re about … well … par for the course.
Over the past few years, on average, employers have experienced high single-digit increases in their health insurance premiums, and that trends looks to continue — at least according to the rates being reported in the individual market right now.
PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) Health Research Institute has been staying on top of state insurance department rate filings and public statements in the individual insurance market, and it has put together an interactive map reporting states’ preliminary or final individual premiums.

Not as bad as feared

It’s early in the enrollment season, and only 31 states are reporting preliminary or final premium figures, but so far the news isn’t bad on the whole.
Nobody likes to see increases, but we all knew they were coming. And overall, they’re not as bad as some feared — about 7% across those 31 states.
The average individual premium across all metal tiers is about $380, according to PwC.
In addition, PwC is reporting that Blue Cross Blue Shield, typically a good barometer of what’s happening with premiums nationwide, is submitting rate increase requests across the country at about 9%.
That’s on par with the increases employers and individuals have absorbed since the recession or the passage of the Affordable Care Act (depending on which analysts you believe) sparked a decline in healthcare cost growth.
Before that time, employers and individuals were absorbing 10%-plus rate hikes annually.
Granted, a lot can still change as the final 29 states release their 2015 premium data, but so far things appear to be about where they were at this time last open enrollment season.

States where increases are highest

PwC’s map breaks down in which states increases are projected to be highest and lowest (of the initial 31 reporting).
The states projected to get hit hardest:

  • Tennessee — average projected premium increase: 14%
  • Vermont: 12.6%
  • Virginia: 12.1%
  • Iowa: 11.5%
  • Kansas: 10.2%

So far, at least one state, Oregon, is actually expected to save a little cash — as the average individual premium there is projected to fall 2.5%.