Another Year of Soaring Health Care Premiums Under Obamacare

On at least 19 difference occasions, President Obama promised Americans that Obamacare would reduce the average family’s health insurance premium by $2,500 per year.

Somehow, this has been one of the least talked about, but most important broken promises of the Obamacare sales pitch. In 2013, health insurance prices rose by as much as 200 percent, with the brunt of the increases targeted at young people who were forced to subsidize older, sicker adults. Early indications are that 2014 aren’t going to be much better. Louise Radnofsky reports for the Wall Street Journal:

That is the picture emerging from proposed 2015 insurance rates in the 10 states that have completed their filings, which stretch from Rhode Island to Washington state. In all but one of them, the largest health insurer in the state is proposing to increase premiums between 8.5% and 22.8% for next year, according to a Wall Street Journal review of the filings. That percentage represents the average rate increases for all individual health plans offered by that carrier. . .

What the Journal found was that insurers with the largest enrollment in most states were the ones with the lowest priced plans. In part, that’s because the biggest insurers had a large enough patient population to spread risk, but mostly, it appears, the companies were looking to lure as many customers as possible before increasing rates in future years.

We’re already seeing that trend play out across the nation. For instance, in Michigan where the dominant Blue Care Network and Blue Cross Blue Shield are raising rates by an average of 9.3 and 9.7 percent respectively. Or in Vermont, where MVP Health Care has requested an average rate increase of 15.5 percent. Or Arizona, where the top two insurers have already proposed premium hikes of 14.4 and 25.5 percent.

Those are just some of the states where residents could face problems with higher rates next year. According to the National Journal many health care analysts are also predicting large rate spikes in West Virginia, Hawaii, Ohio, Arizona, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico and South Dakota. Those states faced a range of problems including lower than expected enrollment, an aged or unhealthy customer population, or a lack of competition among insurers.

Unfortunately, even in states with healthy competition, a flaw (yes, another one) in Obamacare won’t allow many consumers to reap the benefit. The Associated Press reports:

Insurance exchange customers who opt for convenience by automatically renewing their coverage for 2015 are likely to receive dated and inaccurate financial aid amounts from the government, say industry officials, advocates and other experts. . .

Automatic renewal was supposed to make the next open-enrollment under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul smooth for consumers.

But unless the administration changes its 2015 approach, “they’re setting people up for large and avoidable premium increases,” said researcher Caroline Pearson, who follows the health law for the market analysis firm Avalere Health.

That means that many Americans may be stuck with a plan that is not the best deal for them, which is a real problem considering that about 4 in 10 people who bought a health plan say they are already having trouble paying their premiums. Unexpected, rising prices may force some to discontinue their insurance enrollment, which could further push up the cost of insurance plans.

Either way, President Obama and Democratic candidates will have to answer for yet another broken promise this fall. Something tells us voters won’t be happy.