ObamaCare premiums to double in some areas next year
posted at 8:01 am on March 19, 2014 by Ed Morrissey
Remember how Barack Obama and Democrats promised to “bend the cost curve downward” with ObamaCare? Well, they got most of that promise correct. ObamaCare has bent the cost curve all right, but sharply upward — and in 2015, expect them to not just bend but absolutely “skyrocket,” according to The Hill:
Health industry officials say ObamaCare-related premiums will double in some parts of the country, countering claims recently made by the administration.
The expected rate hikes will be announced in the coming months amid an intense election year, when control of the Senate is up for grabs. The sticker shock would likely bolster the GOP’s prospects in November and hamper ObamaCare insurance enrollment efforts in 2015.
The industry complaints come less than a week after Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sought to downplay concerns about rising premiums in the healthcare sector. She told lawmakers rates would increase in 2015 but grow more slowly than in the past.
“The increases are far less significant than what they were prior to the Affordable Care Act,” the secretary said in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee.
Her comment baffled insurance officials, who said it runs counter to the industry’s consensus about next year.
“It’s pretty shortsighted because I think everybody knows that the way the exchange has rolled out … is going to lead to higher costs,” said one senior insurance executive who requested anonymity.
The dynamics of this meet up into a perfect storm for consumers, Elise Viebeck explains. Insurers may have underpriced premiums this year despite the sharp increases already seen for 2014 plans, hoping to entice younger and healthier Americans into the system. That has largely failed, which means that the risk pools are even farther out of whack than anticipated. Also, the regulatory costs are starting to bite insurers, and the lack of providers in some plans may force insurers to expand reimbursement schedules to correct the problem in 2014 and 2015.
The result? In some areas, premiums for 2015 will double, and one insurer told Viebeck that they will likely triple in his state. Those prices will get announced in the fall, regardless of whether HHS likes it or not, as insurers have to start open enrollments by October 1st to get people on plans by January 1. That puts the bad news just weeks ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.
Politico decided at this point to cover the GOP alternatives, which it calls a “road to nowhere”:
Here’s the dirty secret about the House Republicans’ efforts to replace Obamacare: They haven’t even decided if they will hold a vote.
Not to mention, the House GOP would still have to repeal Obamacare in order to implement whatever alternative health care plan they release, which isn’t going to happen as long as President Barack Obama is sitting in the Oval Office.
In the next few weeks and months, the House Republican Conference — with Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) playing the key role — will spend lots of time talking about crafting its own health care plan, one that would be positioned as an alternative to the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
But with a Republican alternative to Obamacare come serious practical and political problems that could prevent the legislation from even getting to the House floor. A critical midterm election is just a few months away. Public opinion is firmly against Obama’s health care law, and releasing specific bills could take the focus off the Democrats’ squirming.
By the time the midterms come around, a road to nowhere is going to look better than the highway to disaster that ObamaCare has been. Expect repeal to gain standing as sharply as rates go up in the fall.