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President Barack Obama announces the resignation of U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs Eric Shinseki after meeting with Shinseki at the White House in Washington, May 30, 2014. (REUTERS/Larry Downing) President Barack Obama announces the resignation of U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs Eric Shinseki after meeting with Shinseki at the White House in Washington, May 30, 2014. (REUTERS/Larry Downing)  

Report: Many Obamacare Customers Will Have To Switch Plans Or Face Skyrocketing Costs

Most Obamacare customers will face serious premium hikes next year unless they change their health insurance again, according to a Thursday study from Avalere Health.

Most Obamacare customers are receiving some level of taxpayer subsidies to take the edge off high premium rates, but the plans that determine the amount of subsidies available will be changing significantly, according to Avalere.

The federal government determines the rate of subsidies by the second lowest-cost silver-rated health care plan on each state exchange, but in six of nine states Avalere studied, the plans that currently serve as the benchmark for federal subsidies will lose their status next year. Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington Obamacare customers will all have their two lowest premium silver plans available change and see the subsidy calculation change as a result.

“The lowest cost plans in 2014 may no longer be low cost in 2015,” said Avalere Health’s Elizabeth Carpenter.

With many insurers upping their premium payments, the most inexpensive plans are changing and customers may have to go through the process of switching plans all over again in order to keep receiving the best subsidy benefits.

“Those receiving federal premium subsidies may need to switch plans in 2015 to avoid paying more than the limits established by the ACA, and the impact will be more profound for lower-income consumers,” said Caroline Pearson, Avalere vice president.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that they will offer automatic re-enrollment for Obamacare customers that want to stay with their same health coverage — but customers should be wary of changing subsidy levels and premium prices. 

If many of the 8 million Obamacare sign-ups — the Obama administration has still not released any numbers on how many customers have paid their premiums — opt to change their health care plans during the next enrollment period, the federal website could be faced with similar tech problems to the first glitchy open enrollment period.

HealthCare.gov will need to be able to withstand not only large amounts of traffic from new Obamacare customers, but also handle 2014′s customer base going through plan selection all over again.

The Obama administration has not yet finished building the back end portions of the federal Obamacare website. Officials hope to have the back end and updates to the consumer-facing portions of HealthCare.gov finished before the next open enrollment period, but some senior officials have doubts. (RELATED: HealthCare.gov Getting A Makeover While Back-End Construction Is Behind)

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