Arizona among states facing hikes in Obamacare premiums and deductibles

Arizona enrollees under the Affordable Care Act, also known as  Obamacare, will see a significant increase in their health care  premiums and deductibles when the marketplace opens ups for 2017 health care plans just one week before voters elect a new president.

Recent data released shows that premium rates and deductibles for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Silver Plan on the Florida exchange are expected to rise by a staggering $866 dollars due to the expiration of the ACA reinsurance and risk corridor programs at the end of the year. Without the subsidy programs, insurance premiums alone will have to cover medical expenses for the first time in 2017.

Enrollees in most states will have to shell out more for their Silver Plans, with premiums and deductibles in Mississippi, Florida and Washington increasing by over $1,000. Mississippi enrollees will see the highest increase of $1,445.

Overall, the average premium and deductible increase will be $225, with increases occurring in all but 10 states.

“As many have predicted since 2010, Obamacare is fundamentally flawed in both concept and execution,” U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) told Arizona Business Daily. “The exit of United Healthcare from the Obamacare exchanges further corroborates the inconvenient truth President Obama and his allies refuse to acknowledge: dictated government health care cannot beat free-market choices. It’s unbelievable that Democratic leaders like Sen. Bernie Sanders think that the solution to Obamacare’s failures is more government involvement in the health care industry.” 

UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurance company, is planning to exit most Obamacare exchange markets due to weak enrollment and high medical costs, FreedomWorks predicts other insurers will follow.

Republicans have long warned of skyrocketing premiums due to the large number of older and less healthy enrollees Obamacare generally attracts.

“If you look at the monstrosity now, with this increase in premiums that the insurance companies have announced -- now this is the third year in a row -- it’s staggering when you also look at the amount of deductibles that people can’t afford,” Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL) told Patient Daily last week. “Don’t give up on hope. The Republicans do have a plan, and it will be cheaper and it will be better than what we have now. And it will be sustainable.”

The reinsurance program was established to help insurers offering ACA-compliant plans charge lower premiums and attract more enrollees as ACA took effect.

Before insurers set their 2014 premium rates, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it would pay insurers 80 percent of the cost of claims incurred by enrollees between $60,000 and $250,000. As a result, insurers were able to reduce premiums by 10 percent in 2014, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

When fewer than expected enrollees signed up for health coverage in 2014, HHS agreed to pay insurers 100 percent of the cost of claims incurred by enrollees between $45,000 and $250,000. Insurers also received additional subsidies to make coverage more affordable for people.

Despite these benefits, many insurers have experienced devastating losses under Obamacare.

“As a health care provider for more than 25 years I understand first-hand the importance of a competitive health insurance market." Gosar said. "Hospitals, doctors and patients alike benefit when health insurers compete to provide quality coverage. That is why I have introduced a legislative solution (HR 494) that restores competition among health insurance companies and can act as an important first step towards ushering in real health care reform.”

HR 494, the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2015, was referred to a congressional committee on Jan. 22.

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