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Obamacare Premium Hikes Projected at 7.5 Percent

By    |   Friday, 15 Aug 2014 10:41 AM

Premiums for health insurance policies offered through Obamacare exchanges will rise by an average of 7.5 percent next year, according to a new analysis by the non-partisan Health Research Institute at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The projection provides the first comprehensive glimpse of how much more individuals will typically pay for health plans purchased through the Affordable Healthcare Exchanges when open enrollment begins in November.
 
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The HRI projections suggest modest changes are in store for premiums for 27 states and the District of Columbia for Obamacare’s second year, far below the double-digit increases many feared, noted HRI Managing Director Ceci Connolly.
 
But business consultants and insurance specialists said the increases are just a hint of things to come in the years ahead with the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
 
“We’re facing an upward trend for healthcare costs that I don’t know if people can afford,” said Richard S. Bernstein, a Florida-based insurance expert who works with businesses and consumers. “That’s the big picture.”
 
Bernstein, and other insurance specialists, predict Obamacare will continue to push premiums higher because insurers must meet higher standards for policies offered to consumers. Price hikes will also be driven by new requirements, to be phased in over the next two years, that employers with more than 50 full-time workers provide healthcare benefits or pay a $2,000-per-worker fine to the federal government.
 
As a result of the employer mandate, he expects many companies will simply get out of the business of providing health insurance and send their workers to the Obamacare exchanges to purchase policies. That shift could result in large numbers of older, sicker individuals buying policies on the exchanges, which is likely to increase costs for those plans, he added.
 
In addition, Bernstein predicts increases in deductibles, co-pays, and overall healthcare costs (for hospital care, drugs, and doctor visits) in policies sold on the exchanges, and through private networks, as Obamacare rules take full effect.
 
He is also concerned about the number of changes President Obama has unilaterally made in the implementation of certain aspects of the law. Among those executive decisions: Delaying implementation of the employer mandate, exempting some insurance policies that don’t meet the new standards, and allowing some individuals to escape the penalty provisions of the law requiring all Americans to have insurance or pay a fine.
 
“Every time he makes a decision to change the healthcare bill that he thinks is in the best interest of the people, he raises the cost,” Bernstein said. “And the question is why? That’s why the cost continuing to go up. That’s the big picture is that if you look at these executive decisions.”
 
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Premiums for insurance policies offered through Obamacare exchanges will rise by an average of 7.5 percent next year, according to a new analysis by the non-partisan Health Research Institute at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
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Friday, 15 Aug 2014 10:41 AM
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