ObamaCare’s impact on health costs.

Last Friday, President Trump delivered a major speech from the White House Rose Garden on prescription drug prices. He announced several policies aimed at reducing the overall cost of pharmaceuticals and limiting patients’ out-of-pocket expenses.

His reform agenda, entitled “American Patients First,” is largely excellent. It mostly harnesses the power of free-market competition, rather than government price controls, to drive down costs for patients while continuing to incentivize drug manufacturers to invest in innovative, lifesaving research.

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On Friday, the administration released a 44-page blueprint for executive action on drug pricing entitled “American Patients First.” The blueprint represents the most comprehensive, serious, and thorough effort by any presidential administration to address the problem of high prescription drug prices.The Trump plan involves two categories of reform: things the administration can do unilaterally, and things that it will call on Congress to enact. Friday’s release focused mainly on unilateral actions, but the Congressional piece is arguably more important, and has gone underappreciated by many observers.

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After years of losses, the U.S. health insurance industry figured out how make money from Obamacare last year, a new analysis shows.

The secret? Raising their prices.

The average cost of health insurance plans sold in the individual market climbed about 22 percent in 2017, as insurers boosted premiums well above what they spent on medical care. That left many in a profitable position for the first time since the Affordable Care Act went into effect, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report released Thursday.

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Oregon’s seven Obamacare insurers are asking for an average nearly 8 percent rate increase for 2019, with some plans calling for hikes of as much as 16 percent.

Of the seven insurers selling plans on the individual market and the law’s exchanges, six plan on raising rates next year between 5 percent and 16 percent. The other insurer aims to reduce rates by nearly 10 percent. Insurers that are proposing rate increases point to the repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate penalty in 2019 as a reason.

The news comes as Democrats and Obamacare allies are attempting to tie the GOP to any rate increases because of changes the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress have made to the law.

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President Trump on Friday outlined his long-awaited plan to lower drug prices, stopping short of a full-scale assault on the pharmaceutical industry while floating several ideas that could give companies heartburn.

Trump stepped back from the some of the sweeping proposals he offered on the campaign trail, like having Medicare negotiate drug prices, but still leveled pointed criticism at the industry.

“The drug lobby is making an absolute fortune at the expense of American consumers,” Trump said in remarks from the White House Rose Garden. “We are putting American patients first.”

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Americans should be able to reap the rewards of living in the country that has brought the world more new drugs than any other. President Trump has made fixing high drug prices a top priority. He will give a speech on the topic today. HHS is taking on this challenge focused on 1) increasing competition in drug markets, 2) giving Medicare Part D plans better tools to negotiate prices, 3) creating new incentives for drug manufacturers to lower list prices, and 4) new options to lower patients’ out-of-pocket spending.

Insurers are proposing double-digit premium increases in Maryland’s individual-health-plan market, a consequence of what the state’s health insurance commissioner called a “death spiral.”

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield requested an 18.5 percent increase on the HMO plans used by the vast majority of its individual-plan members — and a whopping, 91.4 percent increase on its PPO plans. Kaiser Permanente requested a 37.4 percent increase on its HMO plans. The average rate increase requested, across insurers and plans, was 30 percent.

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The first glimpse of what health-insurance companies plan to charge for Obamacare plans next year suggests there’s no relief ahead for consumers saddled with high premiums.

Several insurers in Maryland and Virginia are seeking double-digit percentage increases in monthly costs for individual medical plans in 2019. The largest increases are being sought by CareFirst, which wants to nearly double the amount it charges on average for one coverage option in Maryland, and raise the cost of another in Virginia by 64 percent.

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Here’s a simple idea to help lower health-care costs: publish prices. A bipartisan group of state lawmakers in Colorado is pushing a bill to do precisely that. The Comprehensive Health Care Billing Transparency Act would allow Coloradans to see the true price of any health service they use—exams, procedures, prescriptions—before they undertake treatment.

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Two of Virginia’s ObamaCare insurers are requesting significant premium hikes for 2019, according to initial filings released Friday.

Both Cigna and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield cited policies advocated by the Trump administration, including the repeal of ObamaCare’s individual mandate, as part of its justifications for the increases.

Cigna is proposing an average premium increase of 15 percent for its 103,264 customers in Virginia, with a range of increases from 6.4 percent to 40 percent.

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