Study: Popular ObamaCare plans to see double-digit premium hike

Study: Popular ObamaCare plans to see double-digit premium hike

Premiums for the most popular ObamaCare plans are expected to rise by an average of 11 percent next year, according to new research that will likely fuel GOP attacks against the healthcare law.

Health insurers are seeking steeper premium hikes in 2017 than in previous years, according to a report released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The report offers the most comprehensive and alarming data so far about the premium costs that ObamaCare customers will see when they renew their coverage this fall.  

Still, the figures are not final; for many states, there is a regulatory battle with health insurers before officials will approve the rates.

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The Obama administration has also underscored that the vast majority of people using the government’s marketplaces receive subsidies and will therefore not be paying the full price of the premium increases.

"This is just the beginning of the rates process, and despite headlines suggesting double digit increases, proposed rates aren't what most consumers actually pay," Health and Human Services spokesman Ben Wakana wrote in a statement.

Experts had already predicted 2016 to bring higher costs to healthcare customers because it’s one of the first years in which insurers can use their existing customer data to predict how much they’ll be spending on coverage. Under ObamaCare, several major insurers reported older and less-healthy customers than expected, driving up costs.  

The research looks at lowest-cost and second-lowest silver marketplace plans, the most common plans, in major cities in 13 states where all data are available.

The rate changes will vary widely across regions: For example, insurers have proposed a decrease of 14 percent in Providence, R.I., compared to an increase of 26 percent in Portland, Ore.

The data also show that insurer competition is dropping slightly in 2017.

An average of 5.5 insurers will offer coverage in each state next year, slightly less than the 5.9 insurers in 2016 and the 6.4 insurers in 2015.