Count Minnesotans among the consumers who will get a big rate shock in November when open enrollment begins for ObamaCare. Insurers have applied for massive increases in the state MNsure exchange, with premiums escalating between 36% to 67%, and possibly more. And they’ll get it, because the alternative for insurers is to pack up and leave:
Minnesota health insurers are seeking big premium increases next year for people who buy coverage on their own, with proposed jumps for thousands of people averaging anywhere from 36 percent to 67 percent.
About 270,000 people buy coverage through Minnesota’s individual market, where shoppers buy through insurers, brokers or the state’s MNsure health insurance exchange.
Minnesota is one of the few states left that have more than two or three insurers still left in the ObamaCare exchange. Consumers here have seven insurers from which to choose, but that’s one less than last year. Even so, the upper projection is for some PreferredOne plans is for premiums to double:
Seven carriers filed rates for 2017. The number of insurers offering individual policies is down from eight last year because Blue Cross Blue Shield is pulling out of the individual market, except for its Blue Plus HMO plans.
The increases range from 36 percent for some Blue Plus plans to 66 percent for UCare and certain other Blue Plus plans. While PreferredOne proposes average increases of 63 percent, it says premiums for certain products could reach 100 percent.
The withdrawal of BCBS had a big impact on the marketplace. Over a third of all MNsure consumers had chosen BCBS plans for 2016, and those consumers will have to shop around for new — and expensive — replacements. HHS keeps assuring people that they largely won’t feel the pain:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has said people enrolled through exchanges will largely be shielded from big rate hikes because they’ll be eligible for higher tax credits. The subsidies are offered on a sliding scale. The income limits to qualify for subsidies will be $47,520 for individuals and $97,200 for families of four.
Even if that’s true on an individual basis, the difference doesn’t just go away. Taxpayers pick up the tab on the subsidies, and that’s everyone whether they get subsidies or not. ObamaCare is already going far deeper in the red than anyone projected, thanks to the rapid and massive increase in premium prices all across the board since its implementation. Higher deductibles also mean that the benefits of these plans remain largely out of reach for most consumers, which is why they have opted to pay the fine and save the money on premiums.
I wrote about that in my column at The Fiscal Times, while noting the crisis in choice most other states face in ObamaCare:
Many consumers have checked out of the exchanges, too — or more accurately, never checked in at all. The Congressional Budget Office projected an enrollment level of 24 million by 2016; Democrats projected it at 28 million. By the end of the enrollment period in March, though, enrollment stood at 11.1 million and has drifted down to 10.3 million as the next enrollment period approaches on November 1.
What caused the shortfall? The Washington Post reported over the weekend that a combination of incompetent exchange design and skyrocketing premiums and deductibles had consumers opting to pay the penalties instead. “People who do outreach to the uninsured,” the Post’s Carolyn Johnson reported, “say the enrollment process itself has been more complex and confusing than Obama’s initial comparison to buying a plane ticket.”
Another Obamacare promise bites the dust, but that’s hardly the most significant. Even for those who do get coverage, deductibles are so high that insurance only ends up covering catastrophic events and routine checkups that would cost just a few hundred dollars at most in a retail market. The ACA has not expanded choice but destroyed it, robbing Americans of their ability to gain insurance in a rational market and further eroding the buying power of the middle class.
On every level, Obamacare has proven an abject failure. Let’s apply Barack Obama’s 2009 measure and get rid of the system that has forced prices up while driving choice and quality down.
Minnesota legislators are trying to do just that. I spoke with state Senate Minority Leader Dave Hann and House Speaker Kurt Daudt today at the state fair in the second hour of Hot Air at the Fair, and the disaster of ObamaCare was a big part of the conversation. Matt Dean’s efforts at StopMNsure.org also got plenty of mention.