CHRISTINE STEARNS | JUNE 8, 2017
When rates jump as much as 50 percent, it’s unclear whether consumers on individual exchange in those states will be able to afford health insurance at all
Have you noticed what has been going on with health insurance premiums for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace plans around the country in the past few weeks? If not, you have been missing a disturbing trend. In the states where the rates have been filed for 2018, premiums are skyrocketing. When rates jump by as much as 50 percent, it calls into question whether consumers on the individual exchange in those states will be able to afford their health insurance coverage at all. There is no reason to think that New Jersey consumers will escape big increases in premiums next year.
Unless Washington takes action, the marketplace premium increases that will hit New Jersey families may be devastating. Based on early trends from other states, it is all but certain that New Jerseyans will see price hikes larger than any previously experienced.
Why are these increases inevitable unless Washington acts? It is simple. Washington has failed to commit to funding cost-sharing reductions mandated for those with lower incomes. That is coupled with the decision not to enforce the individual mandate — which makes it more likely that younger, healthier people will choose the risk of not being covered in exchange for the extra money not having to pay premiums puts in their pockets. Those leaving the individual market will also make the pool of insured individuals smaller and sicker. That means the same costs of care will now be spread among a smaller group. Moreover, the return of the federal Health Insurance Tax – which taxes health benefits for families and small businesses — will also add to the total cost of a policy. And that is all on top of medical inflation and typical annual increases in the cost of care.