Obamacare Premiums May Go Up Again in 2019


The major issue that health insurers focused on in 2017 was getting federal payments to cover subsidies the carriers are required to provide under Obamacare to low-income people for out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles and copayments.

Health insurance premiums will be about 20 percent higher in 2018 to make up for the lack of federal funding for the cost-sharing reduction subsidies.

Congress appears poised to include a measure in the fiscal 2018 budget resolution that would fund the subsidies for 2019 and 2020. So that should mean premiums will go down accordingly starting in 2019, right?

Not so fast, say some health-care analysts. Premiums may still rise in 2019 because of other factors, such as the tax cut bill’s provision that reduces the Affordable Care Act’s penalty for not having qualified health insurance to zero.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, told a group of us reporters that restoring the cost-sharing reduction subsidy payments to health insurers “doesn’t come close to solving the problem created by this tax bill,” because ending the ACA’s unpopular individual mandate will drive up premiums as healthy people drop coverage and a disproportionately high share of sicker enrollees remain in the exchanges, driving up medical claims and premiums.

Murray is a sponsor of the measure that would reinstate the cost-sharing reduction subsidy payments to health insurers.

Premiums for ACA-compliant plans in rose more than 20 percent on average in 2017 as insurers increased prices to make up for losses in earlier years, and they are rising by about the same amount again in 2018.

Read my full article here.

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