In a world filled with new surprises every day, it is no surprise that ObamaCare premiums will continue to rise in 2017.
If you follow this blog regularly, you know that I’ve reported on this trend for quite some time. (White House Spins ObamaCare Rate Increases) (UnitedHealth Exit Foreshadows Dark Future) (One Man’s ObamaCare Reality) (BlueCross BlueShield Reports Huge ObamaCare Losses)
Now the first 2017 healthcare insurance rate hikes are being announced and the prices reflect the predictions. In Oregon and Virginia, the first two states to make insurers’ premium proposals for 2017 public, several big insurers are fulfilling expectations.
Providence Health Plan, currently the largest insurer for people buying coverage through the Oregon healthcare exchange, is seeking an average increase of nearly 30 percent. Moda Health Plan Inc., once the largest insurer on the exchange, announced premium hikes that average 32.3 percent. This follows increases last year that averaged 25 percent.
In Virginia, Anthem, Inc. is asking for an average increase of nearly 16 percent. Virginia premiums were considered relatively modest until now. CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield’s proposed average increases are around 25 percent.
All rate increases exceeding 10 percent per year must receive approval before implementation according to the Affordable Care Act. But the Obama administration has been generally cooperative with requests for rate increases from the insurers and instead has chosen to deceive the public about the real amount of escalation.
They prefer to emphasize the government (taxpayer funded) subsidies that blunt the real cost of these price increases to most consumers on the exchanges. It seems they are unconcerned about those in the middle class who don’t qualify for the subsidies and must pay the full price increases.
Humana Inc. said it made a slim profit on individual plans in the first quarter of 2016, not including administrative costs, but still expects a loss for the full year. They created a special reserve fund to account for anticipated losses on individual plans in 2016.
Humana announced it would make changes to its exchange business in 2017 “to retain a viable product for individual consumers, where feasible.” They also said they may include “state-wide market and product exits both on and off exchange, service area reductions and pricing commensurate with anticipated levels of risk by state.” Humana was involved in selling plans on 15 state exchanges last year.
All this follows the recent announcement by UnitedHealth, the nation’s largest healthcare insurer, that they would exit the ObamaCare exchanges in 2017 in all but a few of the 34 states where they sold policies in 2016. UnitedHealth made this announcement in conjunction with projected losses of $650 million on the exchanges in 2016.
The take-home message is simple: ObamaCare insurance will cost even more in 2017. Business as usual.