Mod­est gain seen for Obama’s last health care sign-up sea­son

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION+WORLD -

Fac­ing new chal­lenges to a legacy law, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion on Wed­nes­day set mod­est ex­pec­ta­tions for the pres­i­dent’s fi­nal health care sign-up sea­son. The big­gest worry: ris­ing pre­mi­ums and dwin­dling choices. About 13.8 mil­lion peo­ple are ex­pected to sign up for 2017 cov­er­age, Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Sec­re­tary Sylvia Bur­well said. That would be an in­crease of a bit less than 9 per­cent from the 12.7 mil­lion who picked plans dur­ing open en­roll­ment for this year.

This year is shap­ing up to be the most dif­fi­cult sign-up sea­son since Health­Care.gov launched in 2013 and the com­puter sys­tem froze up. But tech­nol­ogy isn’t the is­sue this time. Pre­mi­ums are go­ing up by dou­ble dig­its in many com­munties. Some ma­jor in­sur­ers have left the pro­gram, leav­ing con­sumers with fewer choices next year. The ad­min­is­tra­tion says tax­payer-pro­vided sub­si­dies de­signed to rise with pre­mi­ums will cush­ion most of the pock­et­book im­pact.

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