Study: Obamacare premiums less than employer-sponsored plans

A study published Monday by Urban Institute found that unsubsidized Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) marketplace insurance premiums are 10 percent lower than the average employer-sponsored plan nationwide.

Entitled “Are Nongroup Marketplace Premiums Really High? Not in Comparison with Employer Insurance”, researchers found that healthcare plans sold on the ACA marketplace are less expensive in 39 states and 58 metropolitan areas.

“In 39 states including the District of Columbia, the average 2016 second-lowest-cost silver nongroup premium (the Marketplace ‘benchmark’ premium) was lower than the average employer-sponsored single premium”, the report read.

Comparison between ACA and employer-sponsored plans were made by adjusting for the age of enrollees and actuarial values in each set.

This year, the average Obamacare premium is $464 per month, compared to $516 for plans offered by employers. However, marketplace health insurance costs increased nine percent from 2015 — compared to only 3 percent for the average employer-sponsored family premium, according to another study released by the Kaiser Family Foundation earlier in September.

However, the same study, called the 2016 Employer Health Benefits Survey, found that premiums for employer plans were rising well before Obamacare was created.

Overall, company-offered health plans costs have increased by 20 percent since 2011 and 58 percent since 2006.  The average worker’s dollar contribution to a family insurance plan, subsequently, has risen by 28 percent in the last five years and by 78 percent in the past decade.

Research by the McKinsey Center for U.S. Health System Reform also found that the trend of Obamacare cost increases will continue in 2017, as an analysis of rate proposals in 18 states and the District of Columbia shows marketplace premiums are set to rise by another 11 percent next year.

However, rates vary fairly depend on location. For example, in New York and Boston, ACA insurance premiums are approximately 30 percent lower than that of employer plans.  In Alaska and Wyoming, conversely, Obamacare premiums are 40 and 24 percent higher, respectively.

Currently, 155 million people in the U.S. receive health insurance coverage from their employer, compared to only 11 million who have purchased a plan through the ACA marketplace.


[NBC News] [Los Angeles Times]