Remember how affordable health care was supposed to get under President Obama? As a matter of fact, it’s written right there in his signature 2010 law – The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Except that for a lot of people, their health insurance is becoming less and less…well, affordable.
Based on the numbers, health insurance plans under the federal government’s insurance marketplace, healthcare.gov, are set to see their third straight annual premium increase in 2016. According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), this increase is supposed to be a 7.5 percent rise from 2015 costs – which the agency claims will be “single-digit” increases for most people who receive taxpayer-funded subsidies to help offset the ever-rising cost of their health insurance plans.
But that's not the end of the story.
By the agency’s own admission, CMS calculated that 7.5 percent increase using only one of four health insurance plans available on the federal marketplace – the Silver Plan, the most popular (and second-cheapest) plan offered. The Silver Plan is also the “benchmark” the government uses to calculate the amount of tax subsidies a person is eligible for based on their health care needs and their income.
Number-crunchers over at the Daily Caller did their own calculations -- this time using all four of the offered plans. According to their breakdown, the across-the-board premium increase for all four federal insurance plans in 2016 comes in at a whopping 20.8 percent.
But wait -- there’s more!
As CNBC pointed out just yesterday, the administration’s boasted 7.5 percent increase, even solely among Silver Plan users, isn’t reflective of what unsubsidized customers will end up paying in 2016.
Thanks to the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act, people are required to have health insurance or face a pretty hefty fine in 2016 ($625 for an adult and $347.50 for each child under the age of 18). This means a good number of those buying health insurance plans on the federal exchange (about 20 percent, by CMS numbers) make too much money to qualify for financial assistance, but are still forced to buy health insurance anyway.
About 60 percent of people in this category have purchased the federal government’s Bronze Plan, the cheapest one offered, CNBC notes. But even though they’re purchasing the most “affordable” option available, they’re looking at an 11 percent hike in their rates next year, along with an additional 11 percent increase in their deductibles, the news outlet added.
From the CNBC article:
Average prices of the so-called bronze plans on the HealthCare.gov marketplace are rising 11 percent for non-subsidized customers over 2015 prices. Average deductibles for individuals are increasing by the same percentage, to $5,731, according to a study by HealthPocket.com, an insurance comparison site.
Average premiums for the most popular types of plans, known as "silver plans," are going up nearly as much — 10 percent — for HealthCare.gov customers who are unsubsidized, HealthPocket found.
The price change is spread out widely across the 37 states that currently participate in the federal exchange. As CNBC notes, the Avalere Health consultancy ran its own analysis and found the average price of the bottom-tier Bronze plan increased by 16 percent in 2016. But for customers in Arkansas alone, the cost went up by 46 percent.
Similarly, Hot Air recently noted a 50 percent premium cost increase in Minnesota, along with a 31.5 percent in Alaska and a 36 percent increase for Oklahomans.
While many customers will get government subsidies (courtesy of the American taxpayer) to help manage these rising costs, people who make too much money to qualify for assistance will be on the hook to cough up the increases.
Hey, when life forces you to buy lemons...