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Obamacare premiums set to rise in 2017

Christopher Jones
Mesa Legend

Photo Chris JonesObamacare is in for a 22 percent increase in benchmark silver plan premiums nationwide, the highest is an 116 percent increase in Arizona, which had the lowest increase in benchmark premiums in the nation during 2016 according to a government report released on Oct. 24. All in the wake of health insurer exits from the Affordable Care Act Marketplace due to losses by ensuring a sicker, and more expensive consumers than expected.  The government will need to push for a bigger turnout of younger and healthier consumers to recover from the coming increases.

Although, not as much, premium rises are not new to the Affordable Care Act. In 2016 the benchmark plan’s premium rose only 7.2 percent on average, in the states that use healthcare.gov. As for 2017, the benchmark silver plan will cost an average of $296 a month next year nationally, and $422 in the state of Arizona. A figure based on prices for a 27-year-old enrollee in the 39 states that use the federal healthcare.gov exchange, plus the four states and Washington D.C. that have their own exchanges.

Nationally, 85 percent of consumers are actually shielded from price hikes, especially if they return to the exchange shop after enrollment opens on November 1.  The federal subsidies can lower their premium to less than 10 percent of their income. Price hikes aren’t the only looming problem for Obamacare next year; Insurers are also fleeing the exchanges.  228 carriers will participate in the federal exchange and other selected states, down from 298 in 2016.

Even five states, Alaska, Alabama, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming- will only have one insurer to choose from on the federal exchange in 2017. Arizona state regulators have approved plans from two companies that will be the only marketplace insurance providers next year. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona will sell marketplace plans in every county except Maricopa County in 2017.  While increasing rates 51 percent. As for Maricopa County, its resident only

As for Maricopa County, its resident only have one option, which is Centene Corp., which said it will sell their “Ambetter” plans.  That plan has been allowed to increase 74.5 percent from the 2016 rates of that same plan. According to the Health and Human Services Secretary, Sylvia Burwell, it is important to use the marketplace to its full potential. Saying in a press conference on October 19, “Those who came in and shopped saved an average of $500 [in 2016]”.

Those who chose to be automatically re-enrolled in their previous plan could see an unexpected prince increase. Obamacare is going through major growing pains, which most experts expect during the transition.New obstacles the next president and congress will have if they choose to extend the program is to find a way to keep people insured at a low cost while having the insurers involved and competitive within the market continuously.

To accomplish this, some have called for a revised law that would make it harder for those who are sick to sign up for insurance after enrollment period to protect insurers. About 10.4 million people were enrolled in Obamacare as of June 30, the administration announced. Burwell expects by the end of the enrollment period that number should grow 9 percent to about 11.4 million in 2017 as the number of uninsured Americans reaches the lowest number in history at 8.6 percent.

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These are archived stories from Mesa Legend editions before Fall 2018. See article for corresponding author.

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