Report Looks At How Premiums Could Change On ACA Health Exchange

Trump-fueled uncertainty spurs insurers to leave hike premiums

Insurers are seeking double-digit premium increases in light of "uncertainty" surrounding the Affordable Care Act, according to a new, nonpartisan study.

TheKaiser Family Foundation released a study this week, showing that insurance providers are preparing to hike premiums in response to uncertainty over whether President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans' can succeed in their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. The focus is on 20 states and the District of Columbia. Often, insurers don't serve an entire state, so typically there are even fewer options for consumers. If Trump continues to mess with Obamacare, as this poll illustrates, Republicans will pay a heavy price in 2018. Since insurers are legally required to reduce those costs, they say blocking the subsidies would force them to increase premiums for millions who buy private insurance, including those whose expenses aren't being reduced.

Trump has frequently tried pressuring Democrats to negotiate on health care by threatening to halt federal subsidies to insurers. In 2010, conservative outrage at what they viewed as major overreach by the federal government into their health care fueled the Republican takeover of the House. Most Democrats (70%) and independents (59%) favor the bi-partisan approach, though almost half of Republicans (49%) and Trump supporters (46%) want Republicans to continue pursuing their own plan to repeal and replace the law.

Unlike in previous years, insurers in this market face new uncertainties that could affect their final rate requests, including questions about the degree to which the ACA's individual mandate will be enforced, and about whether the Trump administration will continue making cost-sharing subsidy payments to insurers or Congress will clarifiy that the payments are authorized. With a 52-48 GOP majority and Vice President Mike Pence available to cast a tie-breaking vote, McConnell has said he's moving onto other matters unless "people can show me 50 votes for anything that would make progress". Far fewer want Republicans to continue working on their own plan to repeal and replace the law (21%) or move on to other priorities (21%).

It's worth noting that a relatively small number of people who receive care through the Obamacare exchanges will be affected by the proposed rate increases, as more than 80 percent of enrollees receive a tax credit that lowers their premiums.

And around two-thirds from those groups want Trump to stop enforcing the tax penalty Obama's law levies on people who don't buy coverage.

Designed and analyzed by public opinion researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation, the poll was conducted from August 1 - 6 among a nationally representative random digit dial telephone sample of 1,211 adults.

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