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October 25 2016

Subsidies Rise to Cover Soaring ObamaCare Rates

Patrice L. Onwuka

The Affordable Care Act has proven to be anything but affordable without the help of taxpayers. This will be even more true for 2017.

Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that the cost of healthcare is expected to rise an average of 25 percent – more than triple this year’s plan costs.

Instead of admitting that the rise in costs each year (especially precipitously high next year) is because the President’s legacy is struggling to stay afloat, the Obama Administration is spinning it as non-issue. The plans are affordable because 8 out of 10 customers can qualify for taxpayer subsidies to help them pay for the real costs of the higher premiums. Those subsides shield customers from the real costs of healthcare with no regard for the taxpayers paying for them.

NPR reports:

"We think they will ultimately be surprised by the affordability of the premiums, because the tax credits track with the increases in premiums," said Kevin Griffis, assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services.

During a media briefing Monday, Griffis said the 2017 rates are roughly at the level the Congressional Budget Office forecast when the law was proposed. "The initial marketplace rates came in below costs," he said. "Many companies set prices that turned out to be too low."

While the average premiums on the benchmark health plans are increasing, the government says more than 70 percent of people buying insurance on the marketplaces created by the law could get a health plan for less than $75 a month for 2017. To get the best deal, people would have to pick a low-cost plan with limited benefits and take advantage of all the subsidies available.

This announcement comes one week before open enrollment for ObamaCare kicks off on November 1 and ends December 15 for those whose coverage begins January 1, 2017. However, for those unlucky individuals and families whose plans were discontinued because their insurer has left Obamacare, they get some extra time (until January 31).

The steep increase is due to fewer insurers offering ObamaCare plans. As we’ve reported extensively, major healthcare insurers such as United Health, Aetna, and Humana pulled out of many state exchanges. That means single moms and working families are about to be notified that they no longer have healthcare coverage because their plans have been discontinued. Couple that with an unbalanced customer pool of sick, high-use patients and it’s not surprise that healthcare costs for those in ObamaCare are rising.

Every year we hear from the Obama Administration that there are good deals to be had, you just have to shop around. That’s a convenient way of pushing the responsibility and blame onto customers for paying more for the same coverage. Yes, every person should shop around, but when the system is failing and causing you to lose coverage each year, the blame should be on those keeping the system afloat – not those stuck in it.

You can hide the increased cost of ObamaCare with the promise of a juicy subsidy, but you can’t hide the fact that ObamaCare is unaffordable for American families. If taxpayers were to revolt and federal law changed to remove those tax subsidies, ObamaCare would collapse, as 80 percent of its customers would likely bail out of that sinking ship – unable to pay the true costs of their plans.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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