ACA Supporters Worried About Impact Of Anticipated Premium Spike

The Los Angeles Times (2/18, Levey) reports that “less than a year before Americans will be required to have insurance under President Obama’s healthcare law, many of its backers are growing increasingly anxious that premiums could jump, driven up by the legislation itself.” According to the Times, “Higher premiums could undermine a core promise of the Affordable Care Act: to make basic health protections available to all Americans for the first time,” although, according to the Times, “Administration officials have consistently downplayed the specter of rate increases,” and “cite provisions in the law that they say will hold down premiums, including new competitive markets they believe will make insurers offer competitive rates.” Noting that a “provision that will prevent insurance companies from charging older consumers more than three times what they charge young consumers” was “a top priority of the influential AARP,” the Times says that “as rates come down for older people, they may increase for consumers in their 20s, regulators worry.” Should that happen, young, healthy people could elect to forgo health insurance which as a result “would leave an older, sicker population in the insurance pool, a phenomenon that typically inflates premiums.”

The Washington Examiner (2/19) reports, “Starting Jan. 1, Obamacare will limit the premium prices of seniors relative to the rest of the population – in other words, younger, healthier people will pay a higher share of health care expenses to fill the void. It’s not just critics of the president concerned about the early implications of Obamacare for the non-AARP crowd.” Young Invincibles, “a nonprofit group that advocated for the president’s health care blueprint, is calling for administration officials to consider defining adults at a later age and including student health insurance in the broader risk pool.”

WPost Examines Possibility Of “Rate Shock” From ACA. The Washington Post (2/16, Aizenman) reported that many “young, healthy Americans could soon see a jump in their health insurance costs, and insurance companies are saying: It’s not our fault.” Insurers say there are “several reasons that premiums will rise. They will soon be required to offer more-comprehensive coverage than many currently provide. Also, their costs will increase because they will be barred from rejecting the sick, and they will no longer be allowed to charge older customers sharply higher premiums than younger ones.”

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