Many consumers still can’t afford Virginia health insurance premiums

Virginia health insurance costs

A new state Joint Commission on Heath Care report showed that silver plans remain costly.

Though the American Rescue Plan has broadened subsidies and has brought plans within reach for more people through the Affordable Care Act, Virginia health insurance premiums remain high enough that many people still struggle to afford the costs.

The state appears to be struggling to keep its health plan premiums under control.

The state’s Joint Commission on Health Care determined that the average cost of silver Virginia health insurance plans – a mid tier level of coverage that typically includes certain out-of-pocket costs – rose by almost 60 percent between 2016 and 2021. This increased the monthly price for most customers by over $200.

Gold and bronze plans also saw increases throughout that time, though they were considerably more modest. The average price for bronze plans rose by 37 percent and the gold plan premiums were up by an average of 25 percent. During that same time period, enrollment in the state’s marketplace fell by about 20 percent.

Virginia health insurance - not affordable health care

Though the cost of Virginia health insurance fell throughout the pandemic, they remain quite high.

During the pandemic crisis, the cost of premiums fell overall due to a lower-than-normal use of healthcare services. However, according to the report, those lowered premiums still remained quite high, to the point that some people struggle to afford them. Analysts cautioned that without an intervention from the state, the participation in the marketplace will only continue dropping as people continue to find it too hard to keep up with their premium payments.

“Average adult costs have increased significantly,” said a senior health policy analyst for the commission Stephen Weiss. “And even though there’s been some decline, it’s not enough to offset the impact of those increases.”

The majority of the changes seen in the state’s costs and enrollment are being blamed on federal actions taken between 2017 and 2019. More specifically, the elimination of the individual mandate by Congress in 2017 removed the Affordable Care Act’s provision that most enrollments must enroll or face tax penalties. Though the removal didn’t shrink participation as much as experts had predicted, the result was enough that Virginia health insurance premiums rose by over $300 per month from 2017 to 2019.

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