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Tags: obamacare | price | premium | cost

Double-Digit Price Spikes Hit Obamacare

Double-Digit Price Spikes Hit Obamacare

By    |   Thursday, 12 November 2015 09:12 AM EST

Obamacare insurance plans are more expensive on average than last year, with double-digit premium increases, a new analysis warns.

Early into enrollment through healthcare.gov and the state-run insurance marketplaces, independent analysts are finding that insurers have raised premiums under President Barack Obama's healthcare law more than they did last year.

About 35 million people in the U.S. remained without insurance in 2015, according to the Congressional Budget Office, despite a law intended to cover nearly all legal residents.

While there is significant variation by county and state, the cost of plans across every price tier has jumped by double digits, The Washington Examiner reported.

Monthly premiums for the lowest-price Silver plan under the Affordable Care Act will rise by a median rate of 11 percent in the coming year, compared to just a 7 percent rate increase between 2014 and 2015, according to an analysis from consulting firm McKinsey & Co.

“The median cost of the Bronze plans, one of the most popular offerings because of its relatively low premiums, will rise by 13 percent in 2016, compared to the 7 percent increase in this year’s premium. As for the high-end health insurance coverage for wealthier consumers, Gold’s median premium rate will jump 15 percent compared to 8 percent last year while Platinum’s rate will rise by 12 percent, compared to 10 percent this year,” the Fiscal Times explained.

“For the least expensive bronze plans, the average deductible for individuals is $5,731—an 11 percent increase,” the Fiscal Times explained.

Last year, price increases were more moderate, increasing between 7 and 10 percent depending on the plan tier, the Examiner reported.

Health experts and critics have been predicting the price hikes.

“Shoppers' experiences vary widely depending on where they live. Average premiums are increasing in the vast majority of states, rising by as much as 26 percent in Oklahoma. They're coming down in a handful of states, including New Mexico, where they're falling by 14 percent,” the Examiner reported.

“And shoppers have slightly fewer plan options during this enrollment period, which lasts through January. There are now 314 insurers participating in marketplaces around the country, down from 333 last year. While 16 percent of consumers will have more plans available to them, 40 percent will find fewer carriers competing in their county.”

The fate of the Affordable Care Act — known as "Obamacare" to its detractors — is very much in the hands of the next president. A weak sign-up season could embolden opponents who are so far unwilling to relent, the Associated Press reported.

To be sure, many have said the president's plan could soon be on life support itself.

"Obamacare is an unwieldy contraption that is sputtering badly," writes Newsmax Insider Rich Lowry.

"Yes, Obamacare has covered more people and has especially benefited those with pre-existing conditions (to be credible, Republican replacement plans have to do these things, as well), but the program is so poorly designed that, surely, even a new Democratic president will want to revisit it to try to make it more workable," Lowry contends.

"The problem with Obamacare in a nutshell is that on one hand, by imposing motley regulations and mandates, it increases the price of health insurance, and on the other hand, by providing subsidies, it tries to hide the cost — but not enough," Lowry said.

GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina declares "Obamacare has to be repealed because it’s failing. It’s failing the very people it was intended to help, but, also, it is crony-capitalism at its worst. Who helped write this bill? Drug companies, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, every single one of those kinds of companies are bulking up to deal with big government."

Meanwhile, the program continues to face obstacles, challenges and difficulties.

The majority of Obamacare’s insurance co-ops—12 of 23—have now folded, and their $1.24 billion in federal loans has all but vaporized. More will fail, nearly a million Americans may lose coverage, and now the contagion from their failures is spreading, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“The co-ops are government-sponsored nonprofits that were supposed to increase competition, but instead they’re causing the greatest insurance disruption in decades. The co-ops aren’t merely jilting their displaced members or the taxpayers who supplied their 'seed money.' Local regulators are defying the feds to close them because other insurers are liable for their toxic balance sheets,” the Journal reported.

For his part, President Barack Obama told workers helping to enroll Americans in health care plans offered under Obamacare that they must fight efforts to scare off millions of Americans who still have not purchased insurance, Bloomberg reported.

"They’ve been fed a lot of misinformation and this has become unfortunately this political issue that it never should have been," Obama reportedly told the workers on a conference call. "That’s in a lot of circumstances scared them off, and we’ve got to make sure we reach them."

Obama said that the government’s data showed that six in 10 people still did not know that tax credits were available to help them purchase health insurance. He also warned that enrollment efforts would suffer from diminishing media coverage in the third year of the program.

"We’re anticipating we’re not going to have the same amount of national media attention we’ve had in the past, so we’re going to have to be more creative," Obama said.

(Newsmax wire services contributed to this report).

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Obamacare insurance plans are more expensive on average than last year, with double-digit premium increases, a new analysis warns.
obamacare, price, premium, cost
Thursday, 12 November 2015 09:12 AM
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