Alabamans will find the Affordable Care Act a lot less affordable in 2017.
The Obama administration announced official numbers this week on how much more the ACA — commonly known as “Obamacare” — will cost Americans in the coming year.
Most people nationwide were shocked, and Alabama will feel the pinch more than nearly any other state.
Deductibles for individuals covered by the lowest-priced Obamacare bronze health plans are set to average $6,000 in 2017 — the first time in the three years of ACA marketplaces that they cracked that threshold.
As for the second-highest silver plans – the most popular choices – Birmingham will have one of the largest increases in unsubsidized premiums, up 71 percent from $288 to $492 for a 40-year-old non-smoker), according to a recent study by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Due to their popularity, silver plans are used to determine subsidies an individual or family would receive through the ACA.
Most people who get coverage through the marketplaces receive a tax credit to lower premiums. CNBC reports that most subsidized customers opt for a silver plan, because the subsidies reduce their monthly costs, and because silver plans are the only ones where out-of-pocket financial subsidies are applied.
In 2016, a 40-year-old adult making $30,000 per year would pay about $208 per month for a silver plan. In some parts of the country, a person switching to a new second-lowest-cost silver plan is in 2017 will pay a similar amount; the after-tax credit payment in 2017 is estimated at $207 per month or a change of 0 percent.
Average monthly payments for bronze plans nationwide are scheduled to increase a minimum of 21 percent next year for those Americans who earn too much to qualify for subsidies. A 40-year-old bronze plan customer without subsidies can expect to pay $350.23 each month for their health coverage; this year, it was about $289.88 per month.
Deductibles for silver plans will also average about $3,572 for individuals next year. That’s about 15 percent more than the current average deductible for silver plans.
In addition to higher premiums, Alabama will also have fewer choices in insurance providers.
Kaiser found that losses in the market caused by higher premiums and deductibles are leaving some insurers — like UnitedHealth and Aetna — to pull out of either the ACA marketplace or individual markets altogether.
States like Alabama and Florida, which use the federally run Healthcare.org, will have an average number of insurers participating in the ACA marketplace drop to 3.9 in 2017 (down from 5.4 companies per state in 2016, 5.9 in 2015 and 4.5 in 2014).
In 2017, Alabama — as well as Alaska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wyoming — will have only a single insurer offering plans in the marketplace.
Kaiser’s full report on the “Obamacare” changes can be found here.