Health Care: When insurers requested huge rate hikes for their 2016 ObamaCare plans, we were told not to worry because state regulators would force them down. But that’s not happening. Death spiral, anyone?
In Alaska, the state regulator approved a 39.6% rate increase for Moda Health, and Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska got a 38.7% hike.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee asked for and got a 36.3% boost in premiums. Oregon’s insurance commissioner approved a 25.6% increase for Moda, the biggest insurer on its ObamaCare exchange. In Kansas, ObamaCare enrollees will face increases of up to 25.4%.
In the pre-ObamaCare days, rate hikes of this magnitude, no matter how rare, would have been cited as proof positive of the need for ObamaCare-type changes. But these eye-popping jumps are showing up across the country, and ObamaCare itself is to blame.
The law’s mixture of heavy-handed market regulations, mandated benefits, taxes and fees have sharply increased the cost of insurance, with no end in sight.
Undaunted, ObamaCare backers say that in many states, regulators succeeded in cutting back on some requests, and that premiums in some states didn’t go up all that much. But calling a 14% increase a victory because it wasn’t 21% isn’t a victory for those still faced with a substantially more expensive product.
Fact is, insurers had real claims data to back up their rate hikes, giving regulators little wiggle room. When New Mexico refused to let that state’s Blue Cross Blue Shield raise premiums enough to cover its costs, Blue Cross decided to pull out, which will force 35,000 ObamaCare enrollees to find another provider.
In some states, regulators themselves forced premiums up more than insurers requested. Oregon’s commissioner told Health Net to raise its premiums by 34.8% instead of the 9% the company had in mind.
In Florida, insurers asked for rate hikes averaging 8.6%. The increase finally approved was 9.5%.
For those eligible for tax subsidies, these premium hikes won’t matter much. But for the many who aren’t, it means ObamaCare is putting affordable insurance even further out of reach. That’s a pretty big failure for a law that is officially titled the “Affordable Care Act.”