California exchange’s health insurance rates to increase 4% in 2015

California has disclosed the 2015 rates for coverage under its health insurance exchange.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Heading into the second year of Obamacare healthcare coverage, California officials said more than 1.2 million consumers in the state-run insurance exchange can expect modest price increases of 4.2% on average next year.

Covered California on Thursday announced the results of its rate negotiations with Anthem Blue Cross, Kaiser Permanente and other major insurers, an important yardstick for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

“This is good news for Californians and an example of how Covered California and the Affordable Care Act are working to make health insurance affordable,” said Peter V. Lee, Covered California’s executive director.


Open enrollment for 2015 begins in November.

While many consumers will see a small bump in premiums, others may experience double-digit rate hikes depending on their age and where they live. Affordability is a crucial factor for future enrollment and renewals.

What’s more, many consumers are likely to continue to vent about the narrow doctor networks and other restrictions they are often forced to accept in exchange for lower rates under Obamacare.

These tentative rates are still subject to review by state regulators.

“We have negotiated very good rates,” said Diana Dooley, chairwoman of the state-run exchange. “I think it means it’s working and there’s stability and predictability in the market.”

The percentage of Californians without health insurance has been cut in half since the exchange opened, from 22% a year ago to 11% by early June, according to a recent survey by the Commonwealth Fund, a New York healthcare foundation.

The federal health law has suffered some legal setbacks in recent weeks, but the news on rates has been encouraging thus far around the country.


A recent study of nine states found that insurers wanted to raise premiums by an average of 8% for individual health plans, according to consulting firm Avalere Health. Insurers are seeking double-digit rate increases in some states.

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