(Original post published April 22, 2022)
Arkansas experienced a 7.4% increase in average benchmark premiums in the individual health insurance marketplace between 2022 and 2023, compared to a national increase of 3.4% during the same period, according to a new research report from the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The report uses the second-lowest-cost silver premium for a 40-year-old in each rating region to calculate the state average benchmark premiums. From 2019 to 2023, Arkansas saw an average annual increase of 9.5% in benchmark premiums, compared to the national average decrease of 3.2%.
Although most states saw premium increases, there were still considerable differences between individual marketplace insurance premiums across states. The lowest average benchmark premium for a 40-year-old nonsmoker in 2023 among all states was $323 in New Hampshire, and the highest was $835 in West Virginia. The average benchmark premium in Arkansas was $416.
In Little Rock, the lowest silver premiums range from a low of $411 (Ambetter) to a high of $425 (Health Advantage). Most people qualify for federal assistance to help pay for the premium cost, and some qualify for assistance for cost sharing (e.g., copays) when they need to go to the doctor.
Average individual marketplace premium prices in Arkansas are particularly low compared to other states. Arkansas’s average benchmark premium of $416 in 2023 is lower than the benchmark premiums in all surrounding states (Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, and Oklahoma). We have previously blogged on Arkansas’s lower marketplace premium rates compared to surrounding states in our Data Watch series.
A separate analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which reports a weighted average of benchmark premiums across all counties in a state, also found that the average benchmark premium in Arkansas was lower than the average benchmark premiums in all surrounding states.
Like individual marketplace premiums, employer-based health insurance premiums in Arkansas have increased. Between 2011 and 2021, individuals in small firms experienced a 59% increase and individuals in medium-to-large firms experienced a 42% increase. For information about average annual premiums for employer-sponsored health plans in Arkansas and surrounding states, see our infographic.
The Urban Institute-Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report also found that a higher number of insurers participating in the marketplace was associated with lower benchmark premiums. The report identifies three insurers as participating in Little Rock’s marketplace.