Pennsylvania ObamaCare to see premiums spike amid Trump pay cuts

Pennsylvania ObamaCare to see premiums spike amid Trump pay cuts
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Insurance premiums for plans sold on Pennsylvania’s ObamaCare exchange will increase by an average of 30.6 percent for 2018, primarily because of President Trump’s decision to stop paying key subsidies, the state’s insurance department said.

If Trump had decided to continue making the cost-sharing reduction payments, projections showed a much more modest premium increase of 7.6 percent.

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“It is with great regret that I must announce approved rates that are substantially higher than what companies initially requested,” Acting Commissioner Jessica Altman said in a statement.

Trump late last week announced the administration would no longer pay the subsidies to insurers, which help low-income people afford co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs associated with health insurance policies.

“This is not the situation I hoped we would be in, but due to President Trump’s refusal to make cost-sharing reduction payments for 2018 and Congress’s inaction to appropriate funds, it is the reality that state regulators must face and the reason rate increases will be higher than they should be across the country,” Altman said.

While the increase is steep, in Pennsylvania it will only apply to the mid-level “silver” health plans that consumers can buy on the exchange.

This means that most consumers will be insulated from the worst of the impact of Trump’s decision.

The idea is that by making the silver plans more expensive, the other plans on the exchange will be cushioned from the price increase.

If the price of a silver plan increases, tax credits that help customers purchase insurance will also increase, so the cost of the most comprehensive “gold” plan may be much cheaper than in previous years.

Congress could still appropriate the payments, but time is running out to do so. Open enrollment begins Nov. 1.