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Data released by the Obama administration shows that many Americans who bought health insurance under the Affordable Care Act could face substantial price increases next year unless they switch plans.

The New York Times reports that the new data means “many of the seven million people who have bought insurance through federal and state exchanges will have to change to different health plans if they want to avoid paying more — an inconvenience for consumers just becoming accustomed to their coverage”:

A new Gallup Poll suggests that seven in 10 Americans with insurance bought through the exchanges rate the coverage and the care as excellent or good, and most were planning to keep it.

In employer-sponsored health plans, employees tend to stay with the same insurer from year to year. But for consumers in the public insurance exchanges, that will often be a mistake, experts said.

Because different health plans often correspond to different networks of doctors and hospitals and cover different drugs, consumers who change plans may also pay more for the same medicines. And if the price of a low-cost benchmark plan in an area has dropped, the area could receive less money in federal subsidies, meaning again that consumers who don’t switch plans may pay more.

The data, released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, indicates that “in a typical county, the price will rise 5 percent for the cheapest silver plan and 4 percent for the second cheapest,” the Times reports.

Wide swings in prices will likely continue, experts say. “Next year will see another reshuffling,” said Caroline F. Pearson, a vice president of research and consulting company Avalere Health. “Eventually, in a year or two, we will start to stabilize.”

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly


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