Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), consumers choose health care plans and premiums through the exchanges. The plan they select also determines the tax credit consumers receive. In addition, during open enrollment, consumers who do not actively select a new or different plan are enrolled into their existing plan. GAO analyzed changes in benchmark plans and premiums from 2015 through 2017.
GAO found that:
- In most of the nearly 2,600 counties included in the analysis, the plans identified as benchmark plans, and the premiums for these plans, changed from year to year. For example, in 85 percent of counties, the 2015 benchmark plans were not benchmark plans in either 2016 or 2017.
- Gross benchmark premiums (exclusive of tax credits) increased from year to year, and increases were higher from 2016 to 2017 than they were from 2015 to 2016.
- About 30 percent of consumers were automatically re-enrolled in 2016, while the remaining 70 percent chose to actively re-enroll.
- Median net monthly premiums—what consumers paid after premium tax credits—increased less from 2015 to 2016 for those who actively enrolled ($5) than for those who were automatically reenrolled ($22), although there was variation.
Increases in monthly premiums for those who were actively and automatically reenrolled.