09/15/2019

Covered California announces 12.5 percent premium hikes in 2018, but what’s this new surcharge?

California consumers buying insurance for 2018 through the state’s insurance exchange will see average premiums increases of 12.5 percent, but by comparison pricing, many could limit their premium hikes to 3.3 percent, Covered California officials announced Tuesday.

The increase was a little lower than the average 13.2 Covered California premium hike implemented this year, despite uncertainty over the future of the Affordable Care Act amid Republican attempts to repeal the law. The average 2018 increase was also much lower than premium hikes seen in several other states.

“Covered California remains robust and strong, and we are pleased to welcome back all 11 plans to compete in regions across the state,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “While there is ongoing uncertainty and a lack of clarity at the federal level, consumers who need affordable health insurance will continue to have good choices in Covered California next year.”

That “ongoing uncertainty” could mean that roughly 650,000 consumers who buy Covered California’s most popular insurance plans, those in the silver tier, will face a double whammy on their premium prices. The exchange said it may have to add a 12.4 percent surcharge to premiums in that tier because insurers are worried about continued federal funding that lowers out-of-pocket costs for enrollees.

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