After putting off routine health care for much of the pandemic, Americans are now returning to doctors’ offices in big numbers — a trend that’s starting to show up in higher insurance rates across the country.
Health insurers in individual marketplaces across 13 states and Washington, DC, will raise rates an average of 10% next year, according to a review of rate filings by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
That’s a big increase after premiums remained virtually flat for several years during the pandemic as insurers seek to recoup costs for more people using their policies, combined with record-high inflation that’s driving up prices for virtually everything, including health care.
The rates review included Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont and Washington.
“We’re at a point in the pandemic where people are using health care that they may have put off before,” said Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation. “We have a double whammy right now of people using more care and inflation throughout the economy.”
In California, state officials announced Tuesday that rates would increase an average of 6% next year for the 1.7 million people who buy coverage through Covered California, the state-operated health insurance marketplace. That’s a big jump after years of record-low increases, when rate increases averaged about 1% in the past three years.
Increased use of health plans was the biggest reason for the increase, accounting for four percentage points, according to Jessica Altman, executive director of Covered California.
“That is really the consistent message that other states are seeing as well, and even more so than California,” Altman said.
About 14.5 million people bought individual health coverage through state marketplaces this year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.