Obamacare premium increases for 2017

Up, up and away!

Does anyone’s income go up as fast as their health insurance premium? I wish.

11.6%. That’s how much more my current health insurance provider wants to charge for my bronze high-deductible health plan in 2017.

And although 11.6% seems like a lot to me, another company in my state is requesting a 19.9% average increase on all its plans, with a 28% increase on its gold plan!

So far, the rate increases that have been made public in other states are all pretty high, averaging well into the double digits. So at least I’m not alone.

New York and Oregon both have insurance companies asking for rate hikes of more than 30%.

Increased costs aren’t limited to premiums

Reading the filed request, I found that not only is my insurance company wanting to increase my premium by 11.6%, they are also changing the plan to raise my cost sharing.

My bronze plan for 2017 will have:

  • A per-person out-of-pocket maximum of $7,150 (up from $6,850)
  • A coinsurance rate of 30% (up from 20%)
  • A limit of 3 PCP visits with a $30 copay (previously unlimited)
  • A specialty drug coinsurance rate of 50% (up from 20%)

So effectively my health insurance costs will go up considerably more than 11.6%.

Why I don’t like Obamacare

I understand that a number of low-income people will be shielded from these premium increases either because they get a subsidy or they qualify for Medicaid. I’m happy for them.

I’m also glad Obamacare got rid of the pre-existing condition rule.

BUT

Healthcare costs are still out of control. We use too much healthcare in this country—abetted by Obamacare’s mandatory essential benefits—and often too much medicine only leads to more treatments and more hospitalizations.

We are taking a record number of prescription medications, and drug companies are feeling completely justified in charging whatever they want, even jacking up the prices of long-standing generic drugs.

In fact, these high drug costs are one of the biggest factors in the 2017 premium increases.

Sure, those of us who buy individual health plans can shop around for a better price, and some will qualify for subsidies, but that just causes more problems down the road.

  1. Buying a cheaper health plan probably means changing to another healthcare provider network and finding a new physician/hospital. That’s lousy for continuity of care.
  2. With a constantly changing subscriber base, health insurance providers have a really hard time figuring out how to balance what they make in premiums versus what they pay out on health claims. They have to start over every year.

Obamacare supporters say that all this pricing confusion was to be expected, but the insurance companies will soon get the prices right and the health insurance market will stabilize.

Maybe so, but who will be able to afford it?

Sláinte,

Frugal Nurse

Learn more about how Obamacare insurance works:

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