Insurance premium hikes put pressure on ACA

Federal officials will now have a chance to practice what they preach when it comes to managing rising premiums under the Affordable Care Act, according to The New York Times.

Large healthcare insurers like Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Humana are fighting to increase premiums to combat rising medical costs in several states where federal officials are responsible for reviewing rates instead of state appointed insurance commissioners.

In Texas, Blue Cross and Blue Shield is requesting rate increases of nearly 60 percent in 2017. In Oklahoma, the insurance magnate proposed increases averaging 49 percent. In Missouri, Humana has filed for a 34 percent increase.

All three carriers claim to have lost profit on numerous policies sold to individuals and families under the ACA. For every dollar collected in premiums in 2015, documents released by Blue Cross and Blue Shield said they paid $1.26 in Texas and $1.38 in Oklahoma amounts that, the insurers claim, are not sustainable, according to The New York Times.

Federal and state officials and insurers also point to a plethora of other factors contributing to increased premium costs, including the recent surge in prescription drug costs and the termination of two temporary programs meant to stabilize premiums.

The current political climate also puts pressure on federal officials to decrease rates. Insurance providers must notify consumers of potential premium hikes in the weeks just before Election Day on Nov. 8.

Obama administration officials have said that the "sticker price" shouldn't worry consumers because most people in the public insurance exchanges receive subsidies to help pay for premiums. Among those receiving subsidies, the average individual's premium rose by just $4 a month in 2016, according to The New York Times report.

But many people buying into public insurance plans do not receive subsidies. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 12 million people will receive tax credits, but an equal number will have to pay the full, unsubsidized price.

More articles about payer issues:

Anthem BCBS expands Medicaid coverage for 6 Wisconsin counties
Humana stock falls 18% amid Aetna acquisition doubts
72% of workers received employment-based coverage in March

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