The proposed prices are just that — proposed. Rates will not be finalized until the fall, and in some cases states can exert pressure on insurers to lower their proposed price hikes.
Many analysts believe that the actual rates for 2017 will contain price hikes that are significantly steeper than the increases seen in prior years, however. The price increases will reflect not only higher medical costs, but also the fact that many plans are seeing older, sicker enrollees than they had projected. Such enrollees can cost more in terms of benefits paid than what they pay in monthly premiums.
Another big factor at play is that next year will see the end of two out of the three Obamacare programs that are designed to limit the financial risk that insurers run by selling the plans.
But Caroline Pearson, senior vice president at Avalere, said that "despite premiums rising overall, many consumers will be insulated from higher rates due to premium subsidies that limit monthly cost for many exchange enrollees."
More than 80 percent of Obamacare-exchange customers qualify for federal tax credits that reduce their monthly premiums. And more than half of such customers additionally qualify for reductions in what they personally owe in out-of-pocket medical expenses.
However, both forms of subsidies are not available to people who buy individual health plans outside of the exchanges.
"Consumers may have to switch plans in order to avoid dramatic rate increases," Pearson said, "but competitive options should still be available in most regions in the U.S."