Obamacare Premiums Set to Spike Again in 2017
Fewer insurance carriers working with Obamacare next year
Obamacare was instituted to make sure that every American had access to healthcare, especially low-income individuals and families. But Obamacare insurance premiums are set to go up yet again. For many, their families will be covered, but it could be a hardship.
In 2017, some of the most popular types of Obamacare health insurance plans want to jack up their prices by 10% or more in 14 major cities, an analysis published Wednesday reveals.
The Kaiser Family Foundation analysis shows there is a wide variation in the proposed prices of lower-cost so-called silver plans. The foundation found that about half of the markets it looked at would see a slight drop in the number of insurers selling plans.
The price hikes ranged from a high of an 18% premium increase proposed for the second-lowest-cost silver plan in Portland, Oregon, to a low of a 13% price cut for the same type of plan in Providence, Rhode Island.
In most of those areas, Kaiser’s report shows double-digit hikes would be common. 
Cynthia Cox, lead author of the analysis, said:
“Premiums are going up faster in 2017 than they have in past years.”
The impact on consumers will depend largely on whether they receive government subsidies for their premiums, as well as their own willingness to switch plans to keep increases more manageable.
Among the cities Kaiser looked at, the monthly premium for a 40-year-old nonsmoker in 2017 will range from $192 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to $482 in Burlington, Vermont.
About 12 million are covered by Obamacare, receiving their coverage through HealthCare.gov and state-run online insurance markets. Nearly 7 in 10 choose silver plans, which are mid-tier options which allows consumers with lower incomes to also get financial help with out-of-pocket costs when they receive medical care.
However, about 2 million consumers earn too much to qualify for Obamacare, and an estimated 3 million to 5 million individuals who purchase independent healthcare plans do not receive financial assistance.
Cox told CBS News that the cheapest silver plan in a community often changes on a yearly basis, and the estimated 11% increase is based on the assumption that consumers will switch. She said:
“If they stay in their same plan they may see a higher premium increase.”
Ben Wakana, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, told CNN Money:
“This is just the beginning of the rates process, and despite headlines suggesting double digit increases, proposed rates aren’t what most consumers actually pay… The vast majority of consumers qualify for tax credits that reduce the cost of coverage below the sticker price, and people can shop around and find coverage that fits their needs and budget.”
This means that consumers must review their options when enrollment opens in the fall – just a week before Election Day. Otherwise, they could be in for a painful shock when they receive their first 2017 bill.
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.