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PA Expects 'Modest' ACA Health Insurance Rate Increases In 2020

TRANSFORMING HEALTH - People who get insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace are likely to see a "modest" increase in rates for 2020. The Pennsylvania Insurance Department says people in some counties will also see more insurance options.

Every year, health insurers who provide Affordable Care Act individual insurance give the Pennsylvania Insurance Department the rates they want to charge consumers for the following year. The Insurance Department then must approve those numbers or work with the insurers to change them.

The 2020 numbers show an average statewide requested increase of 4.9 percent. Requested rate increases for those in small group market plans is 9.6 percent.

Those numbers are in line with average annual rate increases nationwide, said Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman. It shows a market that has stabilized since 2016, when average rates rose 33 percent.

"Our expanding marketplace encourages consumers to shop around and generates lower costs through competition," Altman said.

ACA enrollmentis down from last year, and while Altman said the strong job market is one reason why, she said she also worries about people going without insurance now that president Donald Trump ended the requirement for people to have insurance or face a tax penalty.

Altman also cautioned consumers to be wary of short-term limited duration insurance plans, which have been heavily advertised in some regions following the Trump administration loosening rules on those insurers.

"We are concerned that there are more plans that do not have to comply with ACA standards like protecting preexisting conditions, like essential health benefits, in our market."

Under the proposed 2020 marketplace, 19 counties will also see more health insurance options.

Highmark is entering 14 new counties, including Fayette and Greene counties, which previously had only one insurer.

A company new to the state, Oscar Health, will be an option in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Philadelphia and Montgomery counties.