Insurers Seeking Huge Obamacare Premium Increases

Date: May 26, 2016

Companies Want Double-Digit Premium Boosts For 2017 Across Much Of US

Opponents of Obamacare have been warning for years that the costly healthcare mandate will drive up insurance costs for employers and employees alike. Now, it looks like 2017 health insurance costs will be drastically higher in many parts of America, as insurance companies begin requesting premium rates for the year. The Wall Street Journal reports that insurers are seeking large premium increases on individual plans sold through the Marketplace Exchange in over a dozen states. Insurer’s filings revealed that large plans in New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia are looking to increase rates by 20 percent or more. Maryland and Florida insurers are looking for rate hikes that, while below 20 percent, are well above 10 percent. Of the states that have published premium requests from health insurers, thus far Vermont is the only one where insurers aren’t requesting double-digit premium hikes. The AP reports that so far the “largest increase is a whopping 44% requested by one Humana plan” in Florida. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Pennsylvania Insurance Department unveiled “preliminary rate requests for 20 small-group health plans and 18 individual plans” that showed a range of rate hikes from 7.9% to 23.6%. However, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Highmark has requested that Pennsylvania’s Insurance Department allow it to raise rates on one Obamacare plan by 48.1 percent in 2017. The article points out that some 509,000 Pennsylvanians are enrolled in Obamacare plans, and Highmark is the biggest insurer in this sector. The AP reports health insurers that sell plans through Kentucky’s Obamacare exchange “want to increase rates by an average of 17%” for 2017. The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the state’s largest insurer, wants a 14.7 percent average increase “for plans that cover more than 200,000 people, including about 130,000 whose premiums are paid by Medicaid under the so-called private option.”

What Happens Next

The Journal points out that premium rates are far from settled; proposals still need to be approved by regulators in each state, so final insurance rates won’t be more clear until just before the new HealthCare.gov and state exchanges enrollment window is opened on Nov. 1.

What This Means For Small Businesses

Though it’s still unclear exactly how much healthcare will cost under Obamacare in 2017, small businesses should be worried about news of double-digit premium hike requests in more than a few US states. If Obamacare’s costs aren’t reigned in soon, small business owners will have tough choices to make when it comes to health insurance for themselves and their employees.

Additional Reading

Investor’s Business Daily also covers the story.

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

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