Obamacare Premiums Escalating, But Many May Pay Less

Fears of skyrocketing Obamacare premiums are being realized in 2018, but many people may end up paying less for their exchange plans.

Premiums for the benchmark Affordable Care Act health plans used to determine tax credit subsidies are rising an average of 37 percent in 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services reported shortly before open enrollment is scheduled, Nov. 1-Dec. 15.

That will push average annual premiums for a 27-year-old for the second-lowest cost silver plans to $4,932 in 2018 before premium tax credit subsidies are factored in.

The Trump administration has been highly critical of the ACA, and groups that support the ACA have accused the president of “sabotage,” by cutting outreach funding and ending federal reimbursement for cost-sharing reductions insurers are required to provide for low-income enrollees (which forced insurers to raise premiums to cover the cost). Not to mention confusion among enrollees.

As a result of such actions, the Center for American Progress (CAP) – which favors the ACA – projects that about 1 million fewer people will sign up during the 2018 open enrollment period. About 12.2 million people enrolled for 2017.

Marketplace enrollment would be holding steady for 2018 “had it not been for sabotage of the Affordable Care Act by the Trump administration,” Emily Gee, a health economist with CAP and a former Obama administration official said on a press call I covered.

The Trump administration’s report buries the fact many consumers will be able to find premiums for $75 a month or less, Gee said. About 80 percent of HealthCare.gov consumers are eligible for premium subsidies.

Another analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that many people receiving premium tax credits will pay less than they did in 2017. Their tax credits will rise dollar-for-dollar with the benchmark silver premiums.

Premiums for silver plans are increasing much more than those for bronze or gold plans in 2018 because in many states insurers loaded the cost from the termination of the cost-sharing reduction payments entirely on the silver tier, the KFF said.

For people not eligible for tax credits that defray the cost of premiums, the national average increase for the HealthCare.gov marketplaces will be 17 percent for lowest-cost bronze plans, 35 percent for lowest-cost silver plans, and 19 percent for lowest-cost gold plans, the KFF analysis said.

Read my full article here.

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