New evidence of rising 'Obamacare' premiums

New evidence of rising 'Obamacare' premiums
New evidence of rising 'Obamacare' premiums
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16 June, 2016

Many consumers will have to continue to shop around for the cheapest deal, Kaiser found, as the insurers that had the lowest premiums in 2016 are often no longer one of the two lowest-cost silver plans in 2017. Final 2017 premium rates will be announced right before the November election. As in previous years, it shows how differently the health-care law is playing out across the country depending on regions and insurers.

Millions of Americans have enrolled in health coverage since Obamacare's implementation, and the uninsured rate has dipped, yet 11.5 percent of adults and 9.1 percent of the overall US population still lacked healthcare coverage in early 2015, according to a March 2016 release from the US Department of Health and Human Services. Republicans are already seizing the opportunity to rail against the possibility of double-digit premium spikes as evidence of the need to repeal and replace Obamacare. It found that premiums for a level of insurance called the "lowest-cost silver plan" will go up in 12 of the areas, while decreasing in two. Increases would range sharply, from 4 percent in Albuquerque to 16 percent in the District and 18 percent in Portland, Ore. Some 82% of enrollees received subsidies past year.

"Premiums are going up faster in 2017 than they have in past years", Cox said.

Also, a program created to protect insurers from heavy losses in the exchanges is disappearing after this year, so insurers may have girded for that in their rate requests.

While we can not generalize to all states until more data become available later this year, in most of these population centers, the costs for the lowest and second-lowest silver plans are, in fact, increasing faster in 2017 than they have in previous years. Almost seven in 10 pick the mid-tier silver plans.

The Kaiser analysis examined the impact before subsidies are calculated, however, and found the changes in the second least-expensive plan were nearly identical - with the same three metro areas having similar projected increases and just Providence and Indianapolis showing projected decreases. But not all consumers get help.

About 2 million marketplace customers, though, make too much to qualify for the subsidies. And an estimated 3 million to 5 million people who buy their policies outside of markets like HealthCare.gov do not receive financial assistance.

More news: Chick-fil-A employees were at work in Orlando Sunday

You may have heard that insurers are hiking Obamacare premiums by 30%, 40% or even more next year.

In nine of the 14 cities studied, at least one insurer with one of the current two lowest cost silver plans won't be among those with the two lowest cost silver plans next year, according to Kaiser's analysis.

Insurers are raising their rates for several reasons, said Cynthia Cox, Kaiser's associate director of health reform.

The premium increases follow major insurers reporting significant losses, enrollment lower than hoped for, new customers being sicker than expected and other problems.

Medicare and Medicaid administrator Andy Slavitt, whose agency also oversees the health law, said in a speech last week that the health insurance markets are still in an early trial-and-error stage. Health care costs generally go up year to year, and this is especially true of pharmaceutical costs over the past few years.

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