Reports: Florida Girds for Steep ACA Premium Hikes

Tuesday, 05 Aug 2014 07:10 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Florida consumers are bracing for Obamacare sticker shock next year, with the state announcing an average increase of 13.2 percent in monthly premiums, reports say.

Florida's Office of Insurance Regulation reported that 14 companies had filed plans for the 2015 Obamacare individual market, including three new companies that didn't participate in the federally run exchange last year.

Of the 11 returning plans, eight filed average rate increases ranging from 11 percent to 23 percent, and three filed rate decreases ranging from 5 percent to 12 percent, the state's insurance regular said, the Miami Herald reported.

The planned premium hikes, once subsidies are applied, mean the monthly cost will range between $400 and 600 per family in most counties, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

"Even with a federal subsidy, that could mean an out-of-pocket cost of $500 or more per month to have coverage," the insurance regulator warned in a news release Monday, the Sentinel reported.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who's running for re-election, blasted his Democratic challenger, Charlie Crist, and Obamacare after the new analysis was released.

"Obamacare is a bad law that just seems to be getting worse," Scott said. "Florida families are going to be slammed with higher costs."

Obamacare supporters, on the other hand, took issue with the state's methodology for calculating the impact on consumers.

Florida CHAIN, a healthcare consumer advocacy organization, accused the state insurance regulator of engaging in "a frenzied rush to mislead" consumers by failing to weight averages based on who is enrolling in which plans, policy director Greg Mellowe told the Miami Herald.

"OIR's method of averaging is all about skewing the data to the extreme, and their report should be disregarded," he said.

Tasha Bradley, a spokeswoman for the federal Department of Health and Human Services, also disagreed with the state's assessment, insisting federal subsidies will reduce premiums for qualified consumers.

"After tax credits, the average premium cost for people in Florida this year was $50 for a silver plan, the most popular plan type," Bradley said.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reported the biggest rate hikes to date are coming in states where the federal government runs the Obamacare exchanges.

States like California, which runs its own exchange, appear to be escaping with more modest increases for 2015, with an announced 4.2 percent "weighted average" hike, the Daily Mail reported.

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