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Some ObamaCare premiums will drop next year for first time

Some ObamaCare premiums will drop next year for first time
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Average premiums for the most common “silver” level insurance plan sold under ObamaCare will fall 1.5 percent in 2019, according to the Trump administration, the first time rates have fallen since the law took effect.

In contrast, average premiums for the same mid-level plans increased by 37 percent between 2017 and 2018 and by 25 percent between 2016 and 2017.

The premium decreases are a sign that the insurance marketplace is stabilizing after two years of massive premium spikes, and the Trump administration is taking credit for it.

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Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma told reporters the administration is not sabotaging the law, a common accusation from Democrats and supporters of ObamaCare.

She added that the premium decrease is a sign that all the actions the agency has taken so far— like repealing the individual mandate, cutting payments to ObamaCare outreach groups and expanding short-term insurance plans— have helped.

“The rhetoric on the exchanges has not matched the facts,” Verma said, and despite predictions that the insurance market would destabilize, the opposite has happened.

“We were told if the individual mandate were repealed, premiums would skyrocket. We were told if we shifted focus away from navigators, no one would sign up,” Verma said.

The decrease only applies to silver plans, and experts note that across all plans, average premiums will slightly increase. Open enrollment begins Nov. 1.

Insurance experts also say the main reason premiums are either stable or decreasing this year is because they were so high in 2018. Insurers overpriced their plans this year, driven by the uncertainty over how the Trump administration would handle ObamaCare.

In addition, studies have shown premiums would also be decreasing much more if not for Trump administration policies like the elimination of the individual mandate penalty and expansion of short-term plans.

The administration also said 23 more insurers will enter the exchange next year, and 29 will be expanding their service area. In 2018, 56 percent of the nation's counties had only one insurer offering coverage, but that number has dropped to 39 percent for 2019.