ObamaCare’s impact on health costs.
Premiums will go up sharply next year under President Barack Obama’s health care law, and many consumers will be down to just one insurer, the administration confirmed Monday. That’s sure to stoke another “Obamacare” controversy days before a presidential election.
Before taxpayer-provided subsidies, premiums for a midlevel benchmark plan will increase an average of 25 percent across the 39 states served by the federally run online market, according to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services. Some states will see much bigger jumps, others less.
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Insurer defections and rising premiums in the individual insurance market are spurring Democrats and Republicans alike to talk about changes to the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
For now, the conversations are largely aimed at their party’s base. President Barack Obama led his party’s cry on Thursday with suggestions that would further entrench the law, including the addition of a government-run health plan in parts of the country with limited competition. GOP lawmakers have continued to call for gutting the law, including proposals to waive its penalties for people who forgo coverage in areas with limited insurance options.
In each of these proposals, both sides have been largely talking past one another. Come January, they will have to talk to each other instead.
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ACA proponents perpetually try to make announcements of rising premiums more palatable, but their latest excuse merely highlights the central planners’ failure to deliver on President Barack Obama’s promises. A popular diversionary tactic is to point out federal subsidies under the ACA will significantly offset the rate hikes. Relief from subsidies does not negate the fact that health care costs are increasing–even for individuals receiving subsidies. This is a low bar for a law intended to reform the country’s health care marketplace and protect the uninsured and individually insured.
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Major insurers participating in Obamacare have won approval for substantial premium hikes next year in a dozen or more states. The increases range as high as 30 percent to 50 percent, according to new data.
Shaken by the decisions of Aetna, UnitedHealthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield and other giants to pull out of many states after incurring hundreds of millions in losses, state insurance regulators appear more than willing to go along with these rate increases to prop up insurers remaining in the program.
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After months of health insurer exits from the Affordable Care Act marketplace in Arizona, state regulators have approved plans from two companies that will be the only marketplace insurance providers next year.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona will sell marketplace plans in every county except Maricopa County in 2017. The Phoenix-based insurer’s average rates will increase 51 percent, Arizona Department of Insurance filings show.
Maricopa County residents only option will be Centene Corp., which said it will sell its “Ambetter” plans. State regulators approved a 74.5 percent increase for Centene/Ambetter plans.
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State insurance regulators across the country have approved health care premium increases higher than those requested by insurers, despite a national effort to keep rates for policies sold on Affordable Care Act exchanges from skyrocketing, a USA TODAY analysis shows.
In eight states, regulators approved premiums that were a percentage point or more higher than carriers wanted, said Charles Gaba, a health data expert at ACASignups.net who analyzed the rates for USA TODAY. As of Tuesday, those states are Arizona, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota and Utah.
Pennsylvania regulators approved individual plan rate increases Monday of 33%, which is eight points higher than requested. Two insurers — Keystone Health Plan and Geisinger Quality Option — will also no longer offer plans on the ACA exchange for the state.
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Finalized rates for big health insurance plans around the country show the magnitude of the challenge facing the Obama administration as it seeks to stabilize the insurance market under the Affordable Care Act in its remaining weeks in office.
Market leaders that are continuing to sell coverage through HealthCare.gov or a state equivalent have been granted average premium increases of 30% or more in Alabama, Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Mississippi and Texas, according to information published by state regulators and on a federal site designed to highlight rate increases of 10% or more.
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Obamacare was supposed to reduce health expenses for Americans, but that’s not how it’s working out.
Although many have benefited from government subsidies or the ability to buy insurance, health-care costs continue to rise and eat up a bigger percentage of household budgets.
In a recent though little-noticed study, economist Ann C. Foster at the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that health costs made up a record 8% of an average household’s budget in 2014, the last year for which data is available.
That’s a 40% jump compared to 10 years ago, and a 21% increase since 2010, the year the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed. Parts of the law were implemented shortly afterward but it wasn’t until 2014 that most of it took effect.
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell recently told reporters that in the marketplace, “85 percent of folks receive subsidies.”
This leaves out something important: that there are millions of people buying their own coverage outside of the marketplace. And none of them receive subsidies. So they don’t have any financial cushion to protect against the larger premium increases most observers expect to see in 2017.
“They are the red-haired stepchildren of American health reform,” says Kevin Coleman, head of research and data at HealthPocket. “They don’t have strong sympathy within the government and have typically been ignored.”
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It keeps getting harder to sell Affordable Care Act policies, says Steven Mendelsohn, a Montgomery County licensed insurance salesman.
It’s bad enough that United Healthcare pulled out of the Pennsylvania exchange that sells the subsidized health insurance parties last year, when rates went up 10%. Or that Aetna — which less than 10 years ago dominated the local market for individual policies — stopped writing the policies here earlier this year, when rates went up another 10%.
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