ObamaCare’s impact on health costs.
Many people contend that we should not worry about the premium rate shock because the ACA insulates most people from gross premiums. The oft-repeated idea is that the ACA basically requires only that people pay a percentage of their income in premiums. So, unless income goes up, a person’s net premium stays the same.
Reporters, pundits and bloggers should stop accepting or repeating this contention. Gross premium increases can matter a lot.
It is true that if you earn less than 400% of the applicable federal poverty level AND you purchased the second lowest silver plan the year before AND you continue to purchase the second lowest silver plan the following year, then your net premiums don’t go up even if the gross premium rises astronomically.
. . .
Millions of people who pay the full cost of their health insurance will face the sting of rising premiums next year, with no financial help from government subsidies.
Renewal notices bearing the bad news will go out this fall, just as the presidential election is in the homestretch.
“I don’t know if I could swallow another 30 or 40 percent without severely cutting into other things I’m trying to do, like retirement savings or reducing debt,” said Bob Byrnes, of Blaine, Minnesota, a Twin Cities suburb. His monthly premium of $524 is already about 50 percent more than he was paying in 2015, and he has a higher deductible.
. . .
The Geisinger Health Plan foresees health costs rising 7.5% next year, but requested a 40% rate increase. The plan, which is run by one of the nation’s top-rated health organizations, underestimated the cost of covering the newly insured under ObamaCare. “Our rates for Medicare, Medicaid and employer-sponsored insurance have been relatively stable, but those products have to bear the cost of our losses on exchange business,” Kurt Wrobel, Geisinger’s chief actuary, said. Many insurers are struggling to find the best ways of providing care to their new customers as they prepare for the fourth year of coverage under ObamaCare.
Obamacare supporters will say that increasing premiums don’t matter because anyone getting a subsidy has their premium share capped and they are therefore insulated from these prices and the follow-on big rate increases. The worst that can happen to them is that they will have to shop for a lower cost plan.
Those shoppers may well have to settle for plans with bigger deductibles and narrower networks to keep their premiums flat.
But the bigger thing this argument is missing is that half of the individual market does not get a subsidy in order to buy Obamacare health plans. The CBO has estimated that in 2017 both on and off the exchanges 12 million will get subsidies and 12 million won’t.
. . .
Insurance companies participating in Delaware’s health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act are seeking average rate increases of about 24 percent or more for next year, state officials revealed Thursday in acknowledging the potential sticker shock for consumers.
In a rate filing with the Delaware Department of Insurance, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware is asking for an average rate increase of 32.5 percent for individual plans. Rate increases would vary by plan and would range from 24.1 percent to 35.8 percent.
. . .
With almost half of the U.S. population using prescription medications, expensive sticker prices on certain medications have led policymakers to address drug prices through proposed legislation and regulation. This paper examines the various factors that influence how drugs are priced–including regulatory burdens and health care payment models–in order to provide an understanding of these prices in the larger picture of American health care.
. . .
Fresh problems for “Obamacare”: The largest health insurer in Texas wants to raise its rates on individual policies by an average of nearly 60 percent, a new sign that President Barack Obama’s overhaul hasn’t solved the problem of price spikes.
Texas isn’t alone. Citing financial losses under the health care law, many insurers around the country are requesting bigger premium increases for 2017. That’s to account for lower-than-hoped enrollment, sicker-than-expected customers and problems with the government’s financial backstop for insurance markets.
The national picture will take weeks to fill in. With data available for about half the states, premium increases appear to be sharper, but there are also huge differences between states and among insurers. Health insurance is priced locally.
. . .
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, facing massive losses for its ObamaCare plans, has requested a 58% premium hike for 603,000 customers.
The company is pricing in the claims experience of customers that’s been far higher than expected after suffering a $770 million loss on its exchange plans in 2015, equal to 26% of premiums.
Overall, individual market insurers requested a 35% ObamaCare premium hike for about 1.3 million customers, calculated ACASignups.net, based on the full range of insurer filings available.
BCBS of Texas also is seeking an 18% increase for 353,000 members who buy plans via the small group market that caters to businesses with fewer than 50 employees.
. . .
The costs of providing health care to an average American family surpassed $25,000 for the first time in 2016 — even as the rate of health cost increases slowed to a record low, a new analysis revealed Tuesday.
The $25,826 in health-care costs for a typical family of four covered by a employer-sponsored “preferred provider plan” is $1,155 higher than last year, and triple what it cost to provide health care for the same family in 2001, the first year that Milliman Medical Index analysis was done.
And it’s the 11th consecutive year that the total dollar increase in the average family’s health-care costs exceeded $1,110, actuarial services firm Milliman noted as it released the index.
. . .
ObamaCare premium increases will be higher than last year, according to a new analysis of early data.
The analysis from the consulting firm Avalere Health finds that proposed ObamaCare premiums for silver-level plans are increasing an average of 16 percent in nine states that so far have complete data.The proposed increases for silver plans, the most popular, vary widely, from a 44 percent average increase in Vermont to a 5 percent increase in Washington state.
The increases appear to be higher than last year on average. An Avalere analysis at a similar point in the process last year found an average increase of about 6 percent.
. . .