You’re probably sick of hearing that you can save money by shopping around on the Obamacare marketplace. But a new study illustrates exactly how costly it can be if you choose the same plan from last year without comparing other options.
An enrollee in the lowest-cost silver plan last year could save an average of $322 a year on premiums, or almost $27 a month, by switching into another plan for 2016, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
That’s because the lowest-cost silver plan in 2015 was no longer the cheapest option available in nearly three-quarters of the counties in the study. People who were enrolled in the lowest-cost silver plan in 2015 would see their premiums rise by 15 percent if they stayed in the same plan.
For instance, the lowest-cost silver plan in Dallas was $279 a month last year for a 40-year-old person. That same plan for 2016 is no longer the cheapest silver plan and costs $353 a month, or 27 percent more. But the most affordable silver plan for 2016 costs $260 a month, or 7 percent less than the cheapest one from 2015.
Because the lowest-cost silver plans are the most popular choices and nearly half of participants are automatically re-enrolled in the same plan as this year, many people could save substantial amounts of money by actively comparing and choosing a less expensive option in the same tier.
Those who are already enrolled in marketplace coverage and haven’t chosen a plan by Dec. 15 will automatically be re-enrolled into the same or similar plan. Given Kaiser’s findings, that could cost you hundreds of dollars in premiums.