ACA Changes Could Increase Premium Costs by as Much as 94 Percent

Many public health advocates worried that GOP health insurance reform would lead to skyrocketing premiums. Now, actuaries in California have crunched the numbers — and the news is grim.

In some health insurance markets, premiums for individual plans could increase by as much as 94 percent. These findings highlight the need to continue pressuring public officials on the issue of health care affordability.

Many states in the South could face “catastrophic” increases in price, alongside some states in the Midwest and East — including election heavy-hitters like Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, New York, Florida and some Western and Southwestern states could see increases of up to 50 percent.

California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and several others are better insulated against price shock, and premiums may increase by 35 percent. The specifics depend on smaller individual markets — and may vary from the broad estimate — but overall, the picture is not good.

There are several reasons for this price increase – and why some states are likely to see worse outcomes than others. The elimination of the individual mandate means that many people will start to drop health insurance coverage in the coming years, unless they’re insured through employers or other group insurance plans. In addition, the federal government’s move to shrink the signup window for insurance and reduce promotion to make people aware of their insurance options will cause dwindling enrollment.

Another factor, though slightly smaller, is the reappearance of “bare bones” insurance plans — many of which provide inadequate coverage for a very low cost. These plans are often pitched as “emergency” insurance for generally healthy people, and they siphon individual consumers away from plans with better coverage.

The fewer people enrolled in insurance plans, the more companies up their prices to distribute risk. And in states that didn’t block these plans, price hikes are expected to be particularly extreme. Eliminating subsidies to help with cost of care will further weaken insurance enrollment.

Rising health care prices are another issue. At the same time that fewer people are paying for insurance, the cost of care will increase, creating a perfect storm. Insurance companies rely heavily on a risk pool system, with some consumers taking out more than they put in, while others put in more than they take out, broadly equalizing — and often generating hefty profits for shareholders, as well.

While the cost of individual health insurance — and, to a lesser extent, group coverage — is going up, the federal government is also attacking Medicaid.

This program extends health care coverage to millions of low-income people in the United States, including children, and it’s a vital part of the health care infrastructure — especially for the disability community. Proposed funding cuts are putting the squeeze on communities that can ill-afford it, and the results could be dangerous. Many people on Medicaid can’t access group plans or afford individual insurance. Losing their Medicaid coverage would leave them without options.

The battle over health care can seem abstract until people need care, or see someone close to them struggling to meet their health needs. It’s important to be aware that many people require health care at some point in their lives, and the rising cost of care means that it could be very expensive — especially in the later years of life.

Contact your federal officials, and ask them to take steps to stabilize and protect the ACA — in addition to pushing back on the Trump administration’s assault on Medicaid and Medicare. And, on a state level, officials can advocate for statewide health care options, including expanding state health insurance programs, regulating health care costs or implementing single-payer universal health care.

Photo credit: Ted Eytan

51 comments

Just Human
Just H3 months ago

Trump and the GOP have done everything possible to make the ACA fail. It was far from perfect but it was a start. Universal health care is the only answer. Cut the military industrial welfare to pay for it.

SEND
Julie D
Julie D3 months ago

We need Universal Heathcare for all.

SEND
Margaret Goodman
Margaret G3 months ago

Christina Stewart mentions Liberty health share. It sounds like health insurance to me. How does it differ from health insurance?

SEND
Ch B
Ch B3 months ago

This was the Republican plan all along. Starve the programs until they can be eliminated. "How dare people expect good health care if they are poor?" It's all about power, and maintaining that power and keeping people needy.

SEND
Just Human
Just H3 months ago

The ACA was far from perfect but it was a good start. Those who want to soak every nickel out of us when we're sick have done everything they can to kill the ACA. Until we remove the profit motive from health care we'll have a second rate system that can take away your life saving in a heartbeat.

SEND
Rhoberta E
Rhoberta E3 months ago

brian f still won't / can't answer WHY trump is having so much trouble inserting HIS plan. He just keeps driveling on about everything Democrat EVEN though HE voted Democrat in 2016. Poor brian

SEND
Rhoberta E
Rhoberta E3 months ago

brian f
MAJOR BOT !!!

SEND
Winn A
Winnie A3 months ago

Petition Signed

SEND
Brian F
Brian F3 months ago

Debbie Troll, the ACA was a horrible Republican healthcare plan that Obama gave us instead of Medicare for all, like he promised to give us before he was elected. In Obama's first year and a half in office, he had a filibuster proof Democratic majority, and could have pushed Medicare for all through. Instead Obama sold out to our criminal healthcare industry like most of the corrupt Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, who are refusing to support Medicare for all, because they are in the pockets of big pharma, and our criminal healthcare industry like the Republicans. Obama also took $400,000 for a speech to Wall Street as a reward for not prosecuting one banker. Obama's criminal AG Eric Holder, refused to legalize marijuana, like Obama himself, and also refused to prosecute one banker, and got a cushy job working for a law firm that defends bankers as a reward. Obama will get a 65 million dollar book deal as a reward for selling the country out to Wall Street, and banks. Obama promised hope and change, but the only thing that changed was Obama's bank account, after Obama sold out to Wall Street, big pharma, and our criminal healthcare industry. The Democrats are just as corrupt and corporate owned as the Republicans, and will never allow an honest progressive like Jill Stein or Bernie Sanders to lead the country, and give us Medicare for all.

SEND
Freya H
Freya H3 months ago

Christina S, we can't just ditch ACA without having something ready to replace it. Or would you rather go back to the "good" old days when tens of millions had no coverage because they earned too much to get Medicaid but not enough so they could buy their own policies?

SEND