CBO to release analysis of ending key ObamaCare insurer payments


Despite the repeated failure of Republicans in Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Trump has succeeded in raising health care premiums.

The analysis out Thursday from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that mixed signals from President Donald Trump have created uncertainty "far outside the norm", leading insurers to seek higher premium increases for 2018 than would otherwise have been the case.

"A number of insurers have requested double-digit premium increases for 2018".

Researchers from the Kaiser organization looked at proposed premiums for a benchmark silver plan across major metropolitan areas in 20 states and Washington, D.C.

Trump has recently threatened to cut off the payments for the cost-sharing subsidies, which reduce deductibles and co-pays for lower-income enrollees.

Kaiser reports that "the vast majority of insurers included in this analysis cite uncertainty surrounding the individual mandate and/or cost sharing subsidies as a factor in their 2018 rates filings". The payments are now the subject of a lawsuit filed by House Republicans that was appealed by the Obama administration, and if Trump drops the appeal the payments will stop. Health plans must sign an annual contract with states by September 27 if they want to compete on the Healthcare.gov website. The mandate requires almost all Americans to get coverage or pay a penalty.

Insurance companies submit filings to state regulators outlining their plans to participate in the ACA exchanges and the premiums they expect to charge for the coming year.

Those factoring in the uncertainties directly added an additional 1.2-20% increase to their rates to account for the end of individual mandate, and a 2-23% additional rate hike to account for the end of CSR payments.

"Senator Mitch McConnell said I had 'excessive expectations, ' but I don't think so". Premium increases in unsubsidized second-lowest cost silver plans in the surveyed cities varied from a 5 percent decrease in Providence, Rhode Island, to a 49 percent increase in Wilmington, Delaware, with most cities experiencing premium increases below 25 percent. At stake is the fate of the exchanges and the 10 million Americans who receive coverage through the exchanges, and in particular the 6.7 million people who purchase individual insurance on or off the exchanges without subsidies.

Looking at rates in the 21 cities going back to 2014, the analysis notes that for a lot of them, the average annual premium growth has been modest.