Covered California announced its 2016 rates today. The average 4 percent statewide rate increase was praised by health exchange officials, who point out it’s smaller than last year’s and much less than the double-digit increases consumers were used to before the Affordable Care Act.
But what you pay will depend on where you live. Rates in southern California will go up an average of about 2 percent, while rates in northern California will rise an average of 7 percent.
Peter Lee is the Executive Director of Covered California. He says providers work for a greater variety of health plans in Southern California.
"Health care is local and provider competition based on where you live is a key driver of underlying healthcare costs," he says. "And you can see that here in talking about what is happening in Southern California versus Northern California."
But Lee says consumers throughout the state can save money or limit their rate increases by switching to lower cost plans.
He says the exchange used its pool of enrollees to help negotiate for lower increases.
"Our mix of young, ethnically diverse enrollees is among the healthiest in the country," he says. "And the proof of that can be found in the 4 percent."
The health exchange also added two new insurers to the mix of companies consumers can choose from, bring the total to 12.