October 3, 2017

Uncertainty over Obamacare's future sends premiums up, budgets down [Tampa Bay Times]

Justine Griffin of the Tampa Bay Times writes:

“Open enrollment for individual health insurance is still about a month away, but insurance companies and ‘navigator’ programs that help people find coverage are already bracing for what’s likely to be a rocky year ahead.

Premiums for health care plans sold on the Affordable Care Act’s federal exchange and outside the exchange will rise an average of 45 percent in Florida this year, according to prices released this week by Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation. Insurers blame the rate hikes on the uncertainty surrounding the future of Obamacare, given recent repeal attempts in Congress to repeal the law.

At the same time, Florida’s navigators, the non-profit and public-private groups funded by the government and through grants to help the uninsured sign up on the exchange, have had their budgets slashed.

And it doesn’t help that the open enrollment period — the fifth since the marketplace began in 2013 — is the shortest it’s ever been. The period is half the length of last year’s, beginning Nov. 1 and ending Dec. 15. So advocates are gearing up to educate consumers about the options now.

‘Florida has more people enrolled in the marketplace than any other state,’ said Anne Swerlick, an attorney and analyst with the Florida Policy Institute [emphasis added]. ‘Navigators play a key role in getting the word out, especially this year, when the enrollment period is reduced. There’s a fear that many people may not be reached, which is a real concern in Florida where there’s still 2 million people uninsured.’

There are six health insurers who will sell Obamacare plans on the federal marketplace in Florida come 2018. While all six requested double-digit rate hikes, the state has the power to negotiate them down, and Obamacare subsidies will significantly reduce premiums for many consumers.”


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