Insurers continue to hike prices, abandon ACA markets

Insurers continue to hike prices, abandon ACA markets

Insurers continue to hike prices, abandon ACA markets

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City announced on Wednesday that it's dropping out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges in 32 counties in Kansas and Missouri next year, which will leave 25 Missouri counties without any choices in the exchanges market. Health Care Service Corporation - which is under Blue Cross Blue Shield Illinois - is the only other provider available through the exchange in Adams, Hancock and Pike counties.

Premiums in the 39 states including North Carolina served by the online health insurance marketplace increased from an average of $224 a month in 2013 to $476 in 2017, the report from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department said. Although Tajlili said costs again played a role in the proposed rate increase for 2018, the biggest driver is the expected loss in federal reimbursement of its cost-sharing reductions, or CSR, to help low- and moderate-income enrollees with out-of-pocket expenses.

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Blue Cross said more than three-quarters of its ACA customers this year bought silver-level plans that qualify for the cost-sharing reductions that are tied to a consumer's income.

A family of four earning $40,000 would save about $2,800 a year on deductibles with the reductions, Blue Cross said.

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Freedom Life offers Off Exchange policies in each of the three counties, but subsidies are not available with Off Exchange plans.

The majority of the requested increase came from the lack of funding for CSR payments, Blue Cross said. Some of the most extreme cases include 52 percent in Maryland by CareFirst and 38 percent in Virginia by Anthem, according to The Washington Post. One is an increase in medical costs, including doctors, hospitals and and medicines, which the insurer cites every year it seeks rate increases. Insurers are concerned this problem will become worse if the individual mandate which compels individuals to buy coverage by threat of fine is not effectively enforced next year. "Maybe they're already on their second or third insurance company in as many years trying to wade through yet another individual plan that tells them what might not be covered". The measure is meant to incentivize younger people to maintain coverage, and to prevent people from buying insurance only after getting sick.

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Rather than merely staying silent on whether or not they would fund CSRs, the Trump administration reportedly tried to use them as bargaining chips for insurers and as political pressure points to strongarm Democrats into supporting various pieces of legislation. The department runs numbers "to make sure the health insurance rates submitted, according to NC insurance laws, must not be excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory, and must exhibit reasonable relationship to the benefits provided in the policy", a department spokesman said.

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