The political turmoil in Washington is claiming everyday Americans as its victims. According to a study conducted by consulting firm Avalere Health, the premiums for the most popular health plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare, will be rising by an average 34% in 2018.
While President Trump blames Obamacare for the rise in premiums, saying the ACA is imploding, the fact is, Trump’s actions and ongoing uncertainty about the healthcare act are the fuel that is sending premium prices significantly higher.
In addition to the 34% increase for the silver plan, the average cost of the second-lowest silver plan, which is used as the benchmark, will increase 38% across the country in 2018. In 2017, the benchmark increased 25%.
The Avalere study says premiums are increasing for a number of reasons: President Trump’s decision to eliminate cost-sharing reduction payments, lower-than-expected enrollment in the marketplace, “Insufficient action by the government” to help offset losses by insurers, and “General volatility around the policies governing the exchanges.”
“Plans are raising premiums in 2018 to account for market uncertainty and the federal government’s failure to pay for cost-sharing reductions,” said Caroline Pearson, senior vice president at Avalere. “These premium increases may allow insurers to remain in the market and enrollees in all regions to have access to coverage.”
The average premium increase might be 34%, but not all of the United States is created equally, with premium hikes varying by state. Those in Iowa will be faced with the highest increase in silver premiums at 69%. Wyoming is a close second at 65% and Virginia comes in an unenviable third at 61%.
Those in Alaska will actually see a 22% decrease in premiums in 2018. Arizona (negative six percent) and North Dakota (negative four percent) will also see their silver premiums decrease.
For the average second-lowest silver cost, those in Iowa again come first for biggest annual increase at an eye-watering 116%, followed by New Hampshire (78%) and Utah (76%).
According to Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, those who receive subsidies from the government to help pay their premiums will not feel the rate hike because the government subsidy rises with the premiums.
However, this is of no consolation to the roughly seven-million customers who are not subsidized and buy individual plans outside the government markets.
“There is a danger that middle-class people who don’t get government help in paying their premiums could be increasingly priced out of the market,” Levitt said.
“Silver Exchange Premiums Rise 34% on Average in 2018,” Alavere Health, October 25, 2017.
“Premiums rising 34 percent for most popular health plan,” Missoulian, October 25, 2017.