WASHINGTON (AP) — Consumers getting financial assistance under former President Barack Obama’s health care law will pay lower premiums this year, even though the “list price” for their health insurance shot up.
That odd result is reflected in a report issued Tuesday by the Trump administration.
After federal aid, the average monthly premium paid by subsidized customers on HealthCare.gov is dropping to $89 from last year’s $106. That’s a 16 percent savings even though the “list price” premium went up about 30 percent, now averaging $639 for those subsidized customers.
The bottom line is counterintuitive, but it shows how “Obamacare” subsidies cushion consumers from rising premiums.
Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, says more affordable health care options are needed for people who aren’t eligible for the Affordable Care Act’s income-based financial assistance.
But independent analysts say a big part of this year’s premium increases is due to actions by the Trump administration, including the cancellation of major payments to insurers.
Insurers jacked up premiums to make up for the loss of federal dollars to cover discounted copays and deductibles that the companies were required to provide to low-income customers. Congressional authorization of the payments was under a legal cloud, and President Donald Trump pulled the plug. Bipartisan efforts to restore the money recently fell apart over disputes about abortion coverage.
“These numbers show for the first time how the Trump administration’s termination of payments to insurers in a sense backfired,” said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. “The result, which is a little bizarre, is that consumers eligible for government premium subsidies are actually paying less out of their own pockets for insurance on average than last year.”
About 11.8 million people signed up for coverage this year through HealthCare.gov and state insurance markets, a slight dip from last year.