Study links hikes in pre­mi­ums to Trump

Anal­y­sis: Mixed sig­nals cre­ate un­cer­tainty.

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Ri­cardo Alonso-Zaldivar

Ac­tions by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion are trig­ger­ing dou­ble-digit pre­mium in­creases on in­di­vid­ual health in­surance poli­cies pur­chased by many peo- ple, ac­cord­ing to a non­par- ti­san study.

The anal­y­sis re­leased Thurs­day by the Kaiser Fam­ily Foun­da­tion found that mixed sig­nals from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump have cre­ated un­cer­tainty “far out­side the norm” and led in­sur- ers to seek higher pre­mium in­creases for 2018 than would oth­er­wise have been the case.

Repub­li­cans in Congress have not de­liv­ered on their prom­ise to re­peal and re­place the Obama-era Af­ford­able Care Act. Trump is in­sist­ing that law­mak­ers try again and, in the mean­time, has threat- ened to stop bil­lions of dol­lars in pay­ments to in­sur­ers.

Kaiser re­searchers looked at pro­posed pre­mi­ums for a bench­mark sil­ver plan across ma­jor metropoli­tan ar­eas in 20 states and Wash­ing- ton, D.C. Over­all, they found that 15 of those cities will see in­creases of 10 per­cent or more next year.

About 10 mil­lion peo­ple who buy poli­cies through Health­Care.gov and state- run mar­kets are po­ten­tially af­fected, as are 5 mil­lion to 7 mil­lion more who pur­chase in­di­vid­ual poli­cies on their own.

Those in t he gov­ern- ment-spon­sored mar­kets re­ceive tax cred­its that de­fray the cost. But off-mar­ket­place cus­tomers pay full freight, and they face a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year of steep in­creases. Many are self-em­ployed busi­ness own­ers.

The re­port found in­surer par­tic­i­pa­tion in the ACA mar- kets will be lower than at any time since they were launched in 2014. The aver- age is 4.6 in­sur­ers in the states stud­ied, down from 5.1 this year. In many cases in­sur­ers do not sell plans in ev­ery com­mu­nity in a state.

The re­searchers an­a­lyzed pub­licly avail­able fil­ings through which in­sur­ers jus­tify their pro­posed pre­mi­ums to state reg­u­la­tors. In­sur­ers are strug­gling with sicker-than-ex­pected cus­tomers and dis­ap­point­ing en­roll­ment, and an in­dus­try tax is ex­pected to add 2 to 3 per­cent­age points to pre­mi­ums next year.

On top of that, the re­searchers found that mixed sig­nals from the ad­min­is­tra­tion ac­count for some of the higher charges.

“The vast ma­jor­ity of com­pa­nies in states with de­tailed rate fil­ings have in­cluded some lan­guage around the un­cer­tainty, so it is likely that more com­pa­nies will re­vise their pre­mi­ums to re­flect un­cer­tainty in the ab­sence of clear an­swers from Congress or the ad­min­is­tra­tion,” the re­port said.

ALEX BRAN­DON / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

An anal­y­sis by the Kaiser Fam­ily Foun­da­tion found that mixed sig­nals from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump have cre­ated un­cer­tainty that led in­sur­ers to seek higher pre­mium in­creases for 2018 than would oth­er­wise have been the case.

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