Obamacare Double-Digit Increases Threaten Democrats

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Expected double-digit Obamacare health insurance premium hikes coming just one week before the November 7 election are expected to drag the program’s favorability ratings to new lows, as support from independents and Democrats continues to fade.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office’s latest estimate for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) anticipates that the cost of tax credits to subsidize insurers participating in exchanges will rise from $37 billion in fiscal year 2015 to $56 billion in 2016, and $105 billion by 2025.

Despite an Obama administration estimate in March 2010 that the average cost of subsidies per enrollee would be about $2,810, the average cost for the 13 million subscribers in 2016 averaged $4,308.

Marilyn Tavenner, President and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans, warned on April 20 that the culmination of market shifts that insurers have faced over several years will cause a stark rise in health insurance rates on Obamacare exchanges.

According to a new Blue Cross Blue Shield Association report reviewing millions of private and public healthcare subscribers, Obamacare enrollees’ average cost of care at $559 per month in 2015 was 22 percent higher than the $457 for employer-sponsored health plan subscribers.

Obamacare enrollees were found to have higher rates for costly medical problems such as diabetes, depression, hypertension, heart disease, HIV and Hepatitis C. They also use more medical services — including emergency rooms, in-patient hospital care, doctors and prescriptions than patients in employer-sponsored plans.

Many states saw double-digit premium increase requests last year, but the final average rate increases were about 8 percent. After subsidies and plan shopping were accounted for, a consumer only paid an average of 4.0 percent more than the prior year.

But with UnitedHealthcare withdrawing and Humana threatening to leave Obamacare, shrinking competition is freeing premiums to skyrocket this year. Although rate negotiations are usually kept confidential, early state announcements include:

  • Virginia, Anthem Inc and Carefirst BlueCross BlueShield are asking regulators for 15.8 and 25 percent premium increases, respectively;
  • Oregon’s Providence Health Plan, the state’s largest Obamacare provider, is asking for a 29.6 percent increase, while Moda Health Plan Inc wants a 32.3 percent increase and the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest wants a 5 percent increase.

The latest Kaiser Health Foundation Tracking poll shows a growing disapproval of the Affordable Care Act, with 49 percent of adults having an unfavorable view and only 38 percent showing support. Over the last month, the share of Democrats voicing unfavorable opinions about Obamacare increased by 6 percentage points, and the percentage of independents doing so increased by 5 percent.

Although Hillary Clinton and congressional Democrats have lauded Obamacare as an epic accomplishment, the Associated Press has reported that rank-and-file party members are have growing doubts about Obamacare due to disappointing enrollment figures and complaints about soaring premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

Most big Obamacare exchanges like California’s Covered California require insurers to file their rate requests by June, negotiate with the exchanges over the summer, and send out final rates to enrollees on November 1.

If voters are upset by Obamacare double-digit rate increases, they will be able to express their anger on November 7,


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