Premiums for popular ACA health insurance dip for the first time

Grant Boone
October 14, 2018

CMS credited the Trump administration for the decrease.

Larry Levitt, senior vice president for health reform at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said last month that insurers on the exchange "overshot" their premium increases last year, which explains both their high profit margins at present and the average decrease for next year.

Following couple of years of increase in price the premiums of Affordable Care Act will become a bit cheaper next year, said Trump administration. The small number reflects policies of Trump administration.

It will cost a little less to buy the benchmark Affordable Care Act plan in 2019. On the other hand, some states had substantial increases: the average premium rose 20.2% in North Dakota, 16.1% in DE, and 12.5% in Hawaii.

Under President Donald Trump, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been giving states more freedom to experiment with different health care models to bring costs down. "We can see the rates oftentimes did go down [as a result]", she said, Verma also noted that there were 23 more health insurance issuers in 2019 than in 2018, and 29 issuers are expanding into new counties.

"Despite predictions that our actions would increase rates and destabilize the markets, the opposite has happened", said CMS Administrator Seema Verma in a statement. The leveling-off comes two years after a huge spike in insurance premiums Arizona: Rates in 2017 jumped by 117 percent, a number Trump touted regularly to decry the ACA. The other states and the District of Columbia have their own online marketplaces and were not included in the report.

Before the 2010 health law passed, it was typical for individual health insurance rates to increase yearly, largely because people needing the insurance had above-average health risks.

The vast majority of consumers buying on the exchange have been shielded from rate hikes because their incomes are low enough to qualify for federal subsidies.

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Some experts fear that other actions the Trump administration took will hurt the market in the long run. Critics have called the insurance "junk plans", and Democrats tried and failed to repeal the rule on Wednesday.

Check the provider directories of all the plans available on your exchange to see if your doctors are still included.

CMS predicts that "silver plan" rates in Arizona will drop 9.6 percent next year and the lowest-cost plans will fall 10.1 percent in the state.

The Times notes that insurers demanded large rate increases following heavy loses in the first few years after the ACA was implemented, and to make up for the uncertainty caused the failed efforts to repeal it. Kaiser Family Foundation insurance expert Cynthia Cox told the newspaper that "individual market insurers are now so profitable that it would be hard for many companies to justify a rate increase".

Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady said the lower premiums are "encouraging", but that the law is set up to fail over time. "While we are encouraged by this progress, we aren't satisfied". Shortening how much time people have to enroll and allowing several states to use "reinsurance" to protect companies from very high claims have made the market more attractive to insurers, she said. The highest cost is $709 in Wyoming.

Yet, even with a more positive open enrollment approaching, it bears repeating that consumers need to shop carefully on the exchanges.

"You can see the rates in those states often did go down", Ms. Verma said.

Nevertheless, any premium relief is welcome news, especially for people who don't qualify for government subsidies created to help with premium costs. Ongoing legal and Congressional actions may affect the law's future and that of the health care exchanges, particularly for people with preexisting conditions. "I've gotten at least a call a day from some health care enrollment center that sounds like it might be part of the exchanges but is not", Fish-Parcham said. "While some have publicly been accusing us of sabotage, we have been doing everything we can to mitigate problems of Obamacare".

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