Cost-sharing changes vary among exchange plans

Insurers have adjusted out-of-pocket costs for plans to be sold on health insurance exchanges in 2015. However, cost-sharing changes across the four metal categories have been inconsistent, according to a new survey from HealthPocket.

Comparing out-of-pocket costs for 2015 public rate filings in nine states with 2014 costs, HealthPocket determined deductibles have decreased overall. The largest changes occurred among silver and gold plans, with 9 percent and 12 percent drops in deductibles, respectively. However, insurers increased deductibles for platinum plans by 43 percent on average.

"Early media attention of the 2015 Obamacare plans has focused on premiums," Kev Coleman, head of research and data at HealthPocket, said in a statement emailed to FierceHealthPayer. "But out-of-pocket costs are just as important inasmuch as they can represent thousands of dollars in annual expenses for a consumer who uses healthcare services regularly."

Overall, insurers adjusted out-of-pocket expenses for the four metal plans--bronze, silver, gold and platinum--with the following changes:

  • Bronze plans have lower deductibles, higher specialist copayments and a higher maximum for annual out-of-pocket costs;
  • Silver plans have decreased deductibles, doctor copayments, specialist copayments and maximum annual out-of-pocket costs;
  • Gold plans have lower deductibles, doctor copayments and specialist copayments and increased maximum annual out-of-pocket costs; and
  • Platinum plans have higher deductibles, doctor copayments and specialist copayments but decreased maximum annual out-of-pocket costs.

The trend follows the pattern that exchange plans vary in prices across the country. There are still regions where even the least costly plans are relatively expensive for various reasons, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the HealthPocket survey