Report says changes will increase health premiums

By Christine Sexton
The News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE — Premiums for health insurance plans sold on the federal marketplace are expected to increase by nearly 16.9 percent in Florida next year due to changes in the Affordable Care Act, according to a new analysis released Friday.

Released by the Center for American Progress, the analysis estimates that a decision by Congress and President Donald Trump to repeal the mandate that people buy health insurance, coupled with proposed changes to the types of policies that can be sold, will increase premiums for Floridians by $1,011.

The report by the left-leaning group estimates that the average unsubsidized health insurance premium for a 40-year-old male buying a marketplace policy in 2019 will be $6,995.

The Affordable Care Act has provided subsidies for many people buying coverage, reducing their costs. More than. 1.7 million Floridians enrolled in the health insurance marketplace this year, with more than 1.5 million receiving subsidies either in the form of advanced premium tax credits or additional cost-sharing reductions that help lower co-payments and co-insurance requirements.

The new analysis accounts for the impact of repealing the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that individuals buy health-insurance policies as well as a Trump administration proposed rule to rescind limits on the sale of short-term insurance plans.

The individual mandate, one of the most-controversial parts of the federal health-care law commonly known as Obamacare, was repealed as part of a tax overhaul that passed in December.

In a prepared statement, Topher Spiro, vice president for health policy at the Center for American Progress, blasted Trump and Congress for what he called “sabotage of the insurance marketplaces.”

“First they passed massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, and now they’re asking middle-class Americans and people with pre-existing conditions to pick up the tab,” Spiro said. “They should be focused on lowering health care costs, not increasing them and intentionally undermining the stability of the insurance marketplaces that millions of Americans benefit from.”

The analysis came a day after Florida Democratic members of Congress sent a letter to Gov Rick Scott urging him to take steps to protect Floridians from spikes in health insurance premiums. They also asked that Scott — who adamantly opposes the Affordable Care Act — require health plans to provide for essential health benefits, like hospital care or prescription drugs, and raised concerns that consumers could end up buying low-benefit plans.

“These junk plans would return patients to the days where only upon illness did they discover their plans imposed limits on coverage and excluded vital benefits,” said the letter, signed by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, Congresswoman Kathy Castor and 10 other Democratic members of the delegation. Nelson faces an election challenge in November from Scott.

The letter asked Scott to work with state Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier to take steps to make sure consumers are kept safe. Democrats also asked that Scott consider investing in outreach and enrollment efforts and help provide funding to navigators who can connect patients with the federal marketplace. Floridians buy coverage through the federal marketplace because the state decided against setting up its own exchange.

John Tupps, a spokesman for Scott, said the governor’s office received the letter, adding that “Congress hasn’t controlled the nation’s health care costs or passed a balanced budget in decades.”

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2 thoughts on “Report says changes will increase health premiums

  1. The city of pensacola health insurance when you retire is 1700 a month for family coverage and copays and 20% of service.

  2. The logic the folks at the CAP have is so bizarre. How can you state the Trump administration is sabotaging the marketplaces when:

    1. The primary cause of inefficiencies and high-cost of healthcare existed at the provider-level prior to the ACA and it still is (thus, the increasing premiums).
    2. The ACA did nothing to address the inefficiencies and transparency in cost at the provider-level.
    3. Because the ACA ignored these things and built in a self-destruct mechanism, the expiration of the risk-corridors after 3 years, the costs of health insurance premiums have continue to increase at the same pace or higher than it was prior to 2010. (http://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/updated-health-and-human-services-budget-cuts-115-billion-risk-corridor-payments)
    4. In recognition of the extreme burden the above has on middle-class Americans who are un-subsidized and aren’t eligible for employer health plans, the Federal Government chose to remove the mandatory requirement to purchase health insurance and not be penalized for it.

    In consideration of all of these things, how can someone deduce that this is an attempt to undermine the market when, in reality, the market was already undermined and regardless of the repeal of the mandate, individuals would choose to go uninsured pay the penalty. This produces the same exact result the CAP is arguing the Trump administration created with the repeal of the mandate. How is a family of 4 in the middle class supposed to justify spending $18,000 in premiums for a year and $14,000 in deductibles before their coverage begins? That’s $32,000!! If, by the CAP’s logic Trump is undermining the market, are they prepared to state that these families are undermining the market?

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