As candidates in both parties focus on the general election campaign, some Republicans wonder if large premium increases related to the Affordable Care Act could be an “October surprise” that helps propel them to victory in November. The causes of the approaching premium increases vary, but some are rooted in a 2013 Obama administration proposal.
In reporting on premium increases by one Iowa insurer, the Des Moines Register noted that individuals who bought new plans that complied with Affordable Care Act regulations could face premium increases of 38% to 43% next year.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Political solutions from years past may materialize in the form of rate hikes this fall–and could generate a distinct reaction among voters on Election Day.
Rising rates are not solely the result of the uninsured who bought health plans on the exchanges having a tremendous pent-up demand for healthcare services. Many insurers also underpriced their plans to gain a larger share of the new market. The Congressional Budget Office found premiums in 2014 were 15% lower than expected.
The most significant factor behind next year’s sharply rising prices, experts say, is that millions of “young invincibles,” who represent a large segment of the uninsured pool, have so far not signed up for Obamacare.
“We saw very little of the young and healthy,” said Sherri Huff, a consultant and former chief financial officer of Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative in Wisconsin, one of the insurance co-ops funded by ACA loans.
. . .
Six years after the introduction of Obamacare, Americans are still divided over the controversial health reform law even though most tend to support many parts of the measure, a new HealthDay/Harris Poll found.
However, none of the current crop of presidential candidates appears to inspire much hope that they’ll properly handle health care policy if elected, the poll results show.
. . .
- Health care is one of the top four issues mentioned by voters when asked which issues they most want to hear candidates discuss in the campaign, but half as many cite health care as mention the economy and jobs.
- When asked specifically what health care issues voters would most like to hear the presidential candidates discuss, the 2010 health care law (ACA) and health care costs top the list.
- Overall ratings of the ACA lean negative this month, with 38 percent saying they have a favorable view and 49 percent saying they have an unfavorable view.
- The percentage of Democrats who have an unfavorable opinion of the law increased 6 percentage points from last month. Of the Democrats who did not express a favorable opinion, 40 percent want to expand what the law does.
The public’s views of the Affordable Care Act, which were evenly divided following the Supreme Court’s ruling last summer upholding a key section of the law, are again more negative than positive. Currently, 44% approve of the 2010 health care law, compared with 54% who disapprove of the law.
. . .
Even before President Obama leaves office, ObamaCare has begun unraveling.
The law was passed over the objections of a majority of Americans, it is still opposed by a majority of Americans — and their opposition has been vindicated. Last week, UnitedHealth Group announced that, after estimated losses of more than $1 billion for 2015 and 2016 under ObamaCare, the company was pulling out of most of its ill-fated exchanges. In fact, commercial insurers across the country are hemorrhaging money on ObamaCare at alarming rates.
The president promised these insurers taxpayer bailouts if they lost money, but Congress in its wisdom passed legislation barring the use of taxpayer dollars to prop up the insurers. Without the bailouts, commercial insurers are being forced to eat their losses — while more than half of the ObamaCare nonprofit insurance cooperatives created under the law failed.
. . .
Based on the data included in this report, it is clear that health insurance premium costs have continued to grow despite the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Furthermore, health care premium costs are rising at a rate comparable to the years directly preceding the election of President Obama and passage of the Affordable Care Act. As costs continue to rise, millions of families will face tough financial choices and make even more sacrifices. For those who have experienced little to no increase in wages, health insurance may simply become unaffordable and the prospect of paying a tax penalty may become another unwanted reality.
For those who have enrolled in new health insurance plans on the exchanges, recent premium increases have been even worse. And in 2016, deductibles have gone up for those very same individuals. Worst of all, the outlook for 2017 is no brighter. As University of Minnesota scholar Stephen Parente’s research estimates, each type of health care plan on the exchanges can expect to see a premium increase, with the average increase being 7.3 percent for families and 11 percent for individuals.
The so-called “Cadillac Tax” is a 40 percent excise tax on the value of employer-sponsored health coverage that exceeds certain benefit thresholds, estimated to be approximately $10,800 for employee-only plans and $29,100 for family plans when the tax takes effect in 2020.
While the name may imply the tax applies to a few individuals with luxury health coverage, the truth is it extends much further. 175 million Americans – including retirees, low- and moderate-income families, public sector employees, small business owners and the selfemployed – currently depend on employer-sponsored health coverage and they are all at risk.
On behalf of the American Benefits Council, Public Opinion Strategies conducted a nationwide online survey of 1,200 registered voters from January 29 to February 3, 2016. These findings indicate that voter support for the “Cadillac Tax” is dwarfed by support for repeal.
Voters are more likely to re-elect their representative if they voted to repeal the “Cadillac” tax, though a majority of voters say it makes no real difference in their vote, a report out today from the American Benefits Council says.
Overall, 37 percent of voters said their congressman voting to repeal the tax would make them more likely to re-elect their representative, while 16 percent said it would make them less likely to do so. Still, 47 percent said the vote made no difference. The report was released by the Alliance to Fight the 40, a coalition of groups advocating to repeal the tax on high-cost health plans.
The March Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds that health care is one of many issues that will be important to voters in the Presidential election, trailing concerns about the economy and jobs and leading concerns about another hot issue, immigration. Health care ranks higher for Democratic voters than for Republican and independent voters and is a higher priority for women than for men.