Some Americans could see their insurance bills double next year as the health care overhaul law expands coverage to millions of people. The nation's big health insurers say they expect premiums — or the cost for insurance coverage — to rise from 20 to 100 percent for millions of people due to changes that will occur when key provisions of the Affordable Care Act roll out in January 2014. Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna Inc., one of the nation's largest insurers, calls the price hikes "premium rate shock." "We've done all the math, we've shared it with all the regulators, we've shared it with all the people in Washington that need to see it, and I think it's a big concern," Bertolini said during the company's annual meeting with investors in December. To be sure, there will be no across-the-board rate hikes for everyone, and there's no reliable national data on how many people could see increases.
But the biggest price hikes are expected to hit a group that represents a relatively small slice of the insured population. That includes some of the roughly 14 million people who buy their own insurance as opposed to being covered under employer-sponsored plans, and to a lesser extent, some employees of smaller companies. The price increases are a downside of President Barack Obama's health care law, which is expected to expand coverage to nearly 30 million uninsured people. The massive law calls for a number of changes that could cause premiums for people who don't have coverage through a big employer to rise next year — at a time when health care costs already are expected to grow by 5 percent or more.
Throughout the healthcare debate (and his first campaign), President Obama promised that premiums would fall by an average of $2,500 annually per family. He also pledged that overall healthcare costs would decline, not increase. Wrong, and wrong. There's a reason why Republicans are still fighting like hell to repeal and defund this monstrosity. The Associated Press runs through a few of the reasons behind the looming cost spikes:
— Changes to how insurers set premiums according to age and gender could cause some premiums to rise as much as 50 percent, according to America's Health Insurance Plans, or AHIP, an industry trade group that's funded by insurers.
— A new tax on premiums could raise prices as much as 2.3 percent in 2014 and more in subsequent years, according to a study commissioned by AHIP. Policyholders with plans that end in 2014 probably have already seen an impact from this.
— Requirements that insurance plans in many cases cover more health care or pay a greater share of a patient's bill than they do now also could add to premiums, depending on the extent of a person's current coverage, according AHIP.
While we're at it, let's address two more shattered promises of Obamacare. (1) Remember "if you like your plan, you can keep it?" The Obama administration has announced it's taking an even bigger meat cleaver to the popular Medicare Advantage program than first anticipated. Democrats attack the Republican budget for "cutting Medicare on the backs of seniors" because the proposal includes a bipartisan reform plan for future seniors. Democrats have already sliced $716 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare, and they're about to slash the popular Medicare Advantage for millions of current seniors. (2) In spite of the president's "not a single dime" deficit pledge, the nonpartisan GAO estimates that Obamacare will add $6.2 trillion to our long term deficits.
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