No end in sight for higher Obamacare premiums
Weren’t health insurance premiums supposed to go down under Obamacare and its California exchange, Covered California? During his 2008 campaign for president, Barack Obama predicted that, in his administration, “we’ll lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year.”
Covered California premium increases the past two years have been 4 percent each. The system’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2016-17, which begins July 1, calculates, “gross health insurance premiums … are projected to increase by 8 percent in 2017 and 5 percent each year through 2020.”
The estimates “are low,” Sally Pipes told us; the president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute has written four books on the health care law, including “The Truth About Obamacare.” She said Covered California Executive Director “Peter Lee has said we won’t know the real increase until July,” after the June 7 California primary election.
She cited cost increase estimates for other states: Maryland, 30 percent; Oregon, 27 percent; Maine, 21 percent; and Florida, 18 percent. Ms. Pipes also pointed to Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services when its Obamacare website flopped in October 2013. Ms. Tavenner, now CEO of the industry lobbying group America’s Health Insurance Plans, last month predicted of premiums, “the overall trend is going to be higher than we saw in previous years.”
And, on April 19, reported the Washington Post, UnitedHealth Group announced it “will exit most of the 34 states where it offers plans on the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges,” including California. The insurer is expecting to lose $650 million this year.
Ms. Pipes said Republicans in the House of Representatives will announce a plan to replace Obamacare before the July GOP National Convention in Cleveland. The party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump, has promised to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. In contrast, both Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, have promised to fix Obamacare’s problems with Medicare expansions.
Obamacare is ailing, and voters will have to sort out proposed remedies on Nov. 7.