obamacare

As can be expected, healthcare insurance premiums will be increasing next year after eight insurance companies filed their rate requests with the state earlier this month. Seven of those companies on the federal Obamacare exchange are proposing premium increases averaging 13.4 percent in 2019, which are projected to affect over 365,000 middle-class Virginians.

According to a report from The Free Lance-Star, the proposed premium hikes range from a 64.3 percent increase requested by Group Hospitalization and Medical Services Inc., to the 5.6 percent premium increase requested by Anthem’s HealthKeepers Inc.

Optima Health is the only insurer on the Obamacare Virginia exchange that will actually decrease their premiums in 2019, with a 1.9 percent drop. Though, that follows the company hiking “bronze-level” premiums in Charlottesville by 247 percent between 2017 and 2018 – the highest percent rate increase in the nation.

Some of the companies noted the repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate as their reasoning of increasing rates. But, the repeal of the individual mandate, signed in December 2017 with the Tax cuts and Jobs Act, did not affect the companies that had already filed rate increase requests that were 50 percent higher than 2017.

Low-income Virginians who are subsidized by the program are able to receive healthcare insurance from the rate increases that will fall on those who are self-employed or small business owners, all of whom have annual incomes of 400 percent above the poverty level. This works out to $48,560 in annual income for individuals, and $100,400 for a family of four.

For those shouting “The rich will pay!,” $48,560 doesn’t exactly buy the biggest house on the block.

The original plan for the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) sounded optimistic on paper. Those who did not have employer-provided healthcare coverage, those who made too much money to be on Medicaid, and those who were too young to be on Medicare would sign up on government-subsidized exchanges and have numerous choices for insurance companies at all kinds of price points. Such a measure would vastly reduce the amount of uninsured Americans, everyone would get better coverage at a lower cost, and, of course, “you can keep your doctor.”

…or so we all thought…

Eight years since the inception of what came to be known as Obamacare, millions of American still do not have healthcare insurance. As well, most insurance companies have pulled out out the exchanges because it is way too expensive.

Data from the Congressional Budget Office states that insurance premiums on the exchange will continue to rise at an average rate of 10 percent annually until 2023. Afterwards, they will increase by five percent annually by 2028.

As well, in 2028, federal subsidies for non-institutionalized Americans under 65 are projected to increase from the current $685 billion to $1.2 trillion, while the number of uninsured Americans increases from 29 million to 35 million.

A newly released study by the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that the lowest monthly “silver-plan” premiums on the Virginia exchange increased 64 percent on average, from $309 in 2017 to $506 in 2018. The lowest monthly gold-plan premiums increased 48 percent, from $426 to $631 a month, during the same period.

It seems then, quite unequivocally, that the entire purpose of the federal healthcare overhaul from the Obama Administration has had the opposite effect.