What headlines are missing about Blue Cross’ premiums in 2017

Premium tax credits will lower sticker prices for most North Carolinians

Late last week, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina announced that its requested Marketplace premium increases had been approved. The plans it will sell on the Marketplace in 2017 will see an average increase of 24.3% in premiums. However, media headlines like this one are misleading—North Carolinians aren’t likely to see that kind of increase in their premiums in 2017.

Here is why the 24.3% figure is misleading:

1. It refers to the plans’ sticker price premiums. But 91.5% of North Carolinians with Marketplace coverage in 2016 qualified for financial help that provides a discount on sticker prices. Premium tax credits protect enrollees from annual increases, meaning that if premiums go up, tax credits go up to make up the difference.

2. This figure is an average increase spread out across Blue Cross’ Marketplace plans. Not every plan will see a 24.3% change to its premiums.

North Carolinians deserve to know how the health care news of the day affects them personally. Ultimately, consumers are better off ignoring media headlines and political pundits. Instead, they should check out their options on HealthCare.gov when Open Enrollment begins on November 1. And they can schedule a free appointment with an expert in-person assister who can help them understand their options.

This infographic from Blue Cross explains how premium tax credits protect a consumer from annual premium increases.

This infographic from Blue Cross explains how premium tax credits protect a consumer from annual premium increases.

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