Massive Health Insurance Premium Hikes Coming. Again.

I’m just gonna leave this here for now

I’ve written enough about my own personal experiences with our health care system, and I’m sure I’ll have more to say once I get reamed with this years’ premium increases, but for now, I just want to make sure that people read this NY Times article about massive pending rate hikes

 

WASHINGTON — Health insurance companies around the country are seeking rate increases of 20 percent to 40 percent or more, saying their new customers under the Affordable Care Act turned out to be sicker than expected. Federal officials say they are determined to see that the requests are scaled back.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans — market leaders in many states — are seeking rate increases that average 23 percent in Illinois, 25 percent in North Carolina, 31 percent in Oklahoma, 36 percent in Tennessee and 54 percent in Minnesota, according to documents posted online by the federal government and state insurance commissioners and interviews with insurance executives.

The Oregon insurance commissioner, Laura N. Cali, has just approved 2016 rate increases for companies that cover more than 220,000 people. Moda Health Plan, which has the largest enrollment in the state, received a 25 percent increase, and the second-largest plan, LifeWise, received a 33 percent increase.

Jesse Ellis O’Brien, a health advocate at the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, said: “Rate increases will be bigger in 2016 than they have been for years and years and will have a profound effect on consumers here. Some may start wondering if insurance is affordable or if it’s worth the money.”

President Obama, on a trip to Tennessee this week, said that consumers should put pressure on state insurance regulators to scrutinize the proposed rate increases. If commissioners do their job and actively review rates, he said, “my expectation is that they’ll come in significantly lower than what’s being requested.”

There’s much more in the linked article.   And No, Mr. President – it’s most certainly NOT  my job to make sure that the regulators do their jobs:  that’s YOUR job.  (That’s coming from someone who has actually been to the NH Insurance Commission hearings).

One more thing:  Anthem’s stock chart…

GFY, Anthem

GFY, Anthem

as you can see, the effects of the Affordable Care Act are weighing on the company, which has been struggling greatly since the new law went into effect…/sarc

If you’re wondering why the insurers continue to get away with massive rate hike, the answer is in the article:

“Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of health and human services, said that federal subsidies would soften the impact of any rate increases. Of the 10.2 million people who obtained coverage through federal and state marketplaces this year, 85 percent receive subsidies in the form of tax credits to help pay premiums.”

Translation:  the consumers don’t pay for it, so the consumers don’t care.  Then there’s me: I’m the guy who pays the bill

Oh hey – I had another question which still baffles me about how the Affordable Care Act is supposed to work – perhaps a reader can help me out with this one:  I understand how if you can’t afford health insurance, the ACA offers you coverage with subsidized monthly premiums that can make the coverage almost free.  That’s fine and dandy, but there’s another problem:  all of these plans have deductibles.  The deductibles are hefty.  I’m talking thousands of dollars – not hundreds of dollars.   So when you go see a doctor for a minor ailment and get a $300 bill for the services, how do you pay that bill if you’re in this group who is getting premium subsidies precisely because you can’t afford it?

That question boggles my mind.  Note: this is a separate issue from the “giving everyone access to basic preventative care will hopefully lower costs in the long run” argument… I just want to know how poor people pay for the care that they now have access to under the ACA.   Monthly premiums are only one part of the equation.

Edit: here’s the answer to my “how do they afford the bills” question – thanks to a reader comment.

Health Insurance Companies Seek Big Rate Hikes for 2016

My prior posts about health insurance and the Affordable Care Act

-KD

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