Silver-plated HIX plan participants are helping offer a middle-of-the-road assessment of how the Affordable Care Act is faring. While health care reform advocates point out that these individuals will avoid sticker shock in 2015, critics note that expected price increases still defy a critical objective of the landmark legislation.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently released an analysis suggesting that the average premium increase for mid-tier plans, a key ACA benchmark nestled between bronze, gold and platinum coverage, will edge up only about 2.6 percent to $3,900 from $3,800 in 2014. CBO also projects that these premiums will reach $4,400 in 2016 – 15 percent lower than its 2009 forecast – and about $6,900 by 2024.

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