Insurers are raising the 2017 premiums for a popular and significant group of health plans sold through HealthCare.gov by an average of 25 percent, more than triple the percentage increase of this year’s plans, according to new government figures.
The steep increase in rates serves broadly to confirm what has become evident piecemeal in recent months: Prompted by a burden of unexpectedly sick Affordable Care Act customers, some insurers are dropping out while many remaining companies are struggling to cover their costs.
The figures, announced by federal officials Monday, injected a new round of uncertainty into the future of the insurance exchanges that are a core feature of the 2010 health-care law. Health policy experts said the rising prices and shrinking insurance options add tumult to the coming ACA enrollment season. The data immediately touched off a fresh round of criticism among the ACA’s persistent Republican congressional opponents.
In disclosing the 2017 rates, officials played down the impact of higher prices on consumers. They said that more than 8 in 10 consumers will qualify for ACAsubsidies that will cushion them from the effects of more-expensive insurance. And they noted that as premiums go up, more Americans will be eligible for the tax credits.
In a conference call with reporters, two Department of Health and Human Services officials did not mention the average percentage increase in price. Instead, they briefly mentioned the smaller, 16 percent median increase — a statistic that has not been in previous years’ analyses.
As they have in the past, officials stressed that, if current customers shop around, many will find less-expensive coverage than what they have. With subsidies, more than three-quarters of customers will be able to find a health plan next year for which they pay $100 or less in monthly premiums, according to the new data. People who have ACA coverage tend to qualify for relatively large tax credits because their incomes skew low.
SOURCE: Amy Goldstein
The Washington Post