By Robert Donachie
A handful of health insurance companies, from Blue Cross Blue Shield to smaller state-specific Obamacare insurance providers like ConnectiCare, are asking for premium increases of 20 percent or higher for the fiscal year 2018.
The largest Obamacare insurance providers in Maryland, Virgina and Delaware are requesting premium increases of 30 percent for 2018, The Wall Street Journal reports. Proposals for North Carolina, Oregon and Maine are around 20 percent or higher for major Obamacare insurance providers.
Republicans in Congress are ardently trying to repeal Obamacare, and they have used the recent insurance providers exits from Obamacare marketplaces as a selling point to constituents. Premium increases could add ammunition to their cause, as low- to middle-income consumers get hit with higher costs to simply obtain a health insurance plan.
Insurance providers are raising premiums for two reasons: companies are continuously finding it difficult to enroll enough healthy individuals in the marketplace to offset the costs and they face a great deal of uncertainty as to whether or not the Trump administration and Republican leadership in Congress will continue paying out Obamacare subsidies, like cost-sharing reductions (CSRs).
CSRs are the “secret sauce,” Executive Director of Covered California Peter Lee said Thursday at the America’s Health Insurance Plans in Austin, Texas. “The reason people buy coverage that they didn’t before is because they get financial help to do it.”
While insurance companies have to wait for their proposals to be approved by federal regulators, the proposed rate increases are likely to give fodder to the Republicans’ push to repeal Obamacare.
Democrats in Congress argue that the Obamacare marketplace would be stable if the Republicans would fund subsidy payments for former President Barack Obama’s landmark health care legislation.
Insurance companies fear that increasing premiums will drive more healthy individuals out of the Obamacare marketplace, a situation that would cause further disruption to a system that is already ailing.
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