The cost of health insurance premiums escalate

 

By Beverly George, ACE Leader

 

Catherine Rampell in the Washington Post reported on May 14, 2018 that Virginia, Maryland, and Vermont have preliminarily announced premium-rate requests for Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual policies.

The breakout of their numbers shows Virginia coming in first place with insurance companies requesting a premium rise of 64.3%. But the weighted average for current enrollment looks like it will settle down to only 13.4%, according to health care analyst Charles Gaba.

Vermont says only one of its insurers requested an increase of 7.5%; the other was seeking a 10.9% average annual rate increase.

In Maryland, double-digit premium increases are typical too, with an average hike of 30%. One plan asked for a heart-stopping, no-more-need-for-insurance-ever 91.4% jump!

These numbers won’t be final, but they are symptomatic of what the Republican congress has initiated in their plan to quietly sabotage and kill off the ACA, not to mention the American voters who depend on it for their health care.

 

‘One plan asked for a heart-stopping, no-more-need-for-insurance-ever 91.4% jump!’

 

The Republicans pushed for and passed the repeal of the individual mandate in their GOP Tax Plan. As the number of younger, healthier people opted out of coverage, the number of individual market enrollees remaining decreased quickly, and these patients are sicker. Hence, the premiums have gone up significantly.

In addition, last fall, the Trump administration made it harder for new enrollees to find information and to enroll in a plan. They effectively shortened the enrollment time and reduced public outreach, advertising, and advice to assist new patients in joining.

Finally, the Trump administration has pushed hard for plans that do not include the many of the protections of the ACA, namely, coverage for pre-existing conditions, requisite coverage for prescription drugs, and mental health care. They push hard for short-term insurance plans and association health plans, both of which offer cheap, but extremely slim, coverage. They are, in effect, junk insurance plans, proposed in the name of giving consumers more choices.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “With the repeal of the individual mandate and expansion of short-term plans, double-digit hikes are now likely.” This is “blatant public-policy malpractice,” but in spite of Democrats beating the drum on this issue, voters’ attention spans on health care are dwindling, and Republicans have no interest in triage for Americans’ health.

We all need to stay tuned and engage others in ongoing conversations on the issue of health care.

 


ACE Leader Beverly George also is a member of Indivisible, the Naperville League of Women Voters, and the Citizens Climate Lobby. She also volunteers with her parish PADS group. A former chemist, George worked in clinical chemistry and hematology research at the Centers for Disease Control for six years and taught chemistry and freshman science at Naperville North High School for 20 years.