HHS report: ObamaCare premiums rise significantly

HHS report: ObamaCare premiums rise significantly
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Premiums for ObamaCare plans are rising significantly in many counties across the country according to a new government report, which experts have largely attributed to actions taken by the Trump administration.

According to the report from the Department of Health and Human Services, premiums are increasing for the average "benchmark" plans by about 37 percent. But tax credit subsidies are also rising, meaning more people will be able to purchase insurance at lower rates.

According to the report, nearly 80 percent of ObamaCare enrollees will be able to find plans for less than $75 per month after tax credits. That’s an increase from 71 percent over plan-year 2017.

President Trump has made no secret of his desire to repeal and replace the law and has taken a variety of actions that could undermine it. Higher premiums have been directly attributed to some of these actions.

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Trump signed an executive order that instructed agencies to loosen ObamaCare rules, slashed advertising and outreach dollars, cut enrollment staff and earlier this month cut off payments to insurers that reimburse them for giving discounts to low-income enrollees.

When the Trump administration cut off those cost-sharing subsidy payments, the “benchmark” plans bore the brunt of the cost increase. But since the tax credits are tied to the cost of the benchmark plans, the higher the cost, the higher the subsidies.

According to the report, a 27-year-old making $25,000 per year would see subsidies rise by 73 percent.

Democrats have accused the administration of sabotage and are urging Trump to back a bipartisan bill aimed at stabilizing the insurance markets sponsored by Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Finance: Trump says shutdown 'could happen' | Ryan, conservatives inch closer to spending deal | Senate approves motion to go to tax conference | Ryan promises 'entitlement reform' in 2018 Senate approves motion to go to tax conference House conservatives, Ryan inch closer toward spending deal MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocrats turn on Al Franken VA slashes program that helps homeless veterans obtain housing: report The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Wash.).

Senate leaders have said they won’t bring the bill to the floor unless Trump backs it.

“The best way to help families is to pass the bipartisan legislation Chairman Alexander and I have proposed, which has strong support from Democrats and Republicans and would help lower health care costs this coming year,” Murray said in a statement.

The report also found insurer participation has declined, leaving more counties with only one insurer, which likely contributed to higher premiums.

Insurers have been skittish about the future of the law, but concerns over profitability and the decision to continue to participate in the exchanges have pre-dated the Trump administration.