The sharp jump in Obamacare premium rates for 2017 is staggering, but President Obama and Hillary Clinton are betting they can easily continue on the path to fully socialized medicine using other people’s money to hide the rate hikes.
Obama’s signature healthcare law is offering Americans double-digit rate hikes and shriveled choices among fewer insurance companies in 2017.
“Consumers will be faced this year with not only big premium increases but also with a declining number of insurers participating, and that will lead to a tumultuous open enrollment period” for Obamacare before 2017, says Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation.
As Kaiser notes, in the cities below, a non-smoking 40 year-old who makes $30,000 per year will see these jumps in monthly Obamacare rates in 2017, for a monthly middle-level, “silver” plan:
Birmingham, Alabama 71%
Phoenix, Arizona 145%
Hartford, Connecticut 27%
Washington, D.C. 22%
Chicago, Illinois 48%
Wichita, Kansas 46%
Baltimore, Maryland 24%
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55%
Charlotte, North Carolina 40%
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 67%
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 51%
Sioux Falls, South Dakota 45%
Nashville, Tennessee 49%
However, the Obama administration is telling people not to worry.
The Hill reports:
The premium hikes will directly hit the 16 percent of people with ObamaCare plans who do not currently receive subsidies. The rest will be shielded from most or all of those price increases by ObamaCare subsidies, which increase alongside the rising premiums.
In a call with reporters on Monday, officials with the Obama administration stressed that the new numbers don’t reflect what most people will end up paying.
“We think [consumers] will ultimately be surprised by the affordability of the product,” said Kevin Griffis, assistant secretary for public affairs for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Since Obamacare has essentially made more Americans eligible for Medicaid, most who have signed up for the healthcare program through the federal website healthcare.gov will not see the steep hikes because other Americans will be paying for them. That’s what a “subsidy” is – someone gets something “for free” because the government forces other people to pay for it.
Nevertheless, those on Obamacare who receive subsidies will still have to deal with the very limited – and, in some cases, practically non-existent – choices in insurance plans. Those customers with subsidies who have chronic medical conditions may not see an actual out-of-pocket cost hike, but they will likely find they are forced to switch plans – and doctors – because some of the major national insurance companies have left the program.
“Enrollees may need to change doctors or drugs when they switch insurers,” said Caroline Pearson of the consulting firm Avalere Health.
The upshot is even those whose health insurance is mostly paid for by other Americans won’t be able to keep their doctor, if they like their doctor.
Chris Jacobs writes at National Review:
Even as it stands now…the exchanges are little more than Medicaid-like ghettoes, attracting a largely low-income population most worried about their monthly costs. To moderate premium spikes, insurers have done what Medicaid managed-care plans do: Narrow networks. Consultants at McKinsey note that three-quarters of exchange plans in 2017 will have no out-of-network coverage, except in emergency cases. And those provider networks themselves are incredibly narrow: one-third fewer specialists than the average employer plan, and hospital networks continuing to shrink.
Obama and Hillary Clinton are betting on low-income Americans’ satisfaction with subsidies “shielding” them from increased costs, while their actual access to care is compromised.