'It's Working:' More Hefty Obamacare Premium Hikes On the Way

Guy Benson
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Posted: Jun 03, 2015 10:27 AM
'It's Working:' More Hefty Obamacare Premium Hikes On the Way

And now, a follow-on item to this post, regarding the "Affordable" Care Act, via CNN:

Hold onto your wallets ... many insurers want to substantially hike rates on Obamacare policies for 2016. Many are proposing double-digit premium increases for individual policies, with some companies looking to boost rates more than 60%, according to a list posted Monday by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. In Florida, for instance, United Healthcare (UNH) wants to raise the rates of plans sold on the Obamacare exchange by an average of 18%. Individual policies available outside the exchange through United Healthcare or through a broker would go up by 31%, on average, with hikes as high as 60% for certain plans in certain locations. In Texas, insurer Scott & White is looking for a 32% increase for exchange-based plans, while Humana (HUM) is asking for an average 30% boost for its exclusive provider organization policies, which generally cover only in-network services. Insurers say they want to hike rates because enrollees are going to the doctor, getting lab work and filling prescriptions more than they had originally anticipated...Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina cited hospital in-patient care, particularly cancer and heart conditions, emergency room visits and specialty drugs as major contributors to its proposed 26% hike.

The story goes on to note that many insurance commissioners will reject the proposed increases -- forcing negotiated compromises -- and that those consumers receiving taxpayer-funded subsidies won't shoulder the full freight of the raised costs.  If insurers can't raise rates commensurate with new operating costs, they'll look for other ways to maintain their (relatively small, but necessary) profit margins, or might even consider backing out of Obamacare.  In either case, the result isn't good for consumers, and the price tag arrow is pointed in one direction: Up.  President Obama and his Democratic allies promised skeptical Americans that the new law would result in substantially lower premiums for everybody.  That pledge is being violated repeatedly, from coast to coast.  More from The Hill:

Health insurers across the country are eyeing slightly steeper cost increases in 2016, a year that will be an important test for how well ObamaCare is working. The costs of the lowest-tiered individual plans appear to be ticking up, according to multiple experts who have reviewed the proposed rates...Tennessee’s biggest insurer has proposed an increase of 36 percent for some plans, while one of New Mexico’s biggest carriers is looking at a 50 percent increase. The most popular carrier in Maryland has called for a 30 percent hike. Other states are facing more moderate increases, though they would still be steeper than last year’s average increase of 5 percent.

Many Americans find themselves battered not only by still-climbing rates, but by heavy out-of-pocket costs and so-called "access shock."  The Obama administration, meanwhile, is declaring victory over these numbers, which we'll deal with below:

More than 10 million of the 11.7 million people who selected Obamacare plans for 2015 ended up paying for coverage, making their enrollment official, the federal government said Tuesday. For now, at least, the tally of 10.2 million paying customers as of March 31 surpasses the Obama administration's goal of retaining 9.1 million paid-up customers by the end of this year. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said the numbers show that the government-run health exchanges are "working."

The discredited "it's working" mantra will never die among the True Believers, regardless of reality. CNBC's story goes on to mention that, "Burwell's announced paid enrollment target was significantly less than the 13 million that had been projected by the Congressional Budget Office...The lowered expectations reflect a realization among officials that signing up Obamacare customers after its debut in 2014 would be harder than in future years."  In other words, the White House is terribly excited to have exceeded its (massively downgraded) goal, evidently hoping that people forget about previous projections and benchmarks.  More than 1.5 million Obamacare sign-ups eventually declined to pay for the coverage they'd selected, dropping out of the pool.  Also, healthcare wonk Avik Roy has pored over the administration's enrollment figures and estimates that only a fraction of the overall number represents newly enrolled Americans.  A large number of enrollees previously had insurance prior to Obamacare, then had their coverage cancelled by the law -- another notorious broken promise.  Speaking of which, let's close with this:


President Obama claimed in March that Obamacare is "blowing away" expectations and succeeding beyond his wildest dreams.