Obamacare Update: Now EVEN MORE States Report Double-Digit Premium Hikes

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Vermont, Connecticut and Arizona Obamacare customers will almost universally be paying higher premiums in 2015, contrary to one of the central promises of the health-care law — lower health care costs.  

Insurers are upping premiums for all Obamacare exchange customers in Vermont, which is working its way to a single-payer health-care system to encompass the whole state by 2017. MVP Health Care has requested an average rate increase of 15.4 percent, while the only other insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, requested average hikes of 9.8 percent.

The lowest increase came from BCBS at 5.6 percent for the lowest-quality coverage, a high-deductible bronze plan, while the largest hike was an 18 percent increase for MVP’s silver plan — the most popular health plan type nationally. (RELATED: Ohio Obamacare Premiums Up By Double Digits For 2015) 

In Arizona, some health plans are raising rates even faster. While not all Arizona’s Obamacare insurers have submitted proposals, two top insurers are planning to up rates drastically: Cigna proposed average premium hikes of 14.4 percent and Humana requested a 25.5 percent boost. Blue Cross Blue Shield, the largest individual market insurer, expects to file their requests with state officials by the end of June.

Connecticut, which currently has just three insurers participating in its exchange, will face two insurers proposing double-digit hikes and one proposing a decrease.

Anthem Health Plans requested a 12.5 percent average increase, affecting 66,000 individual health care policies; ConnectiCare Benefits has proposed an 11.8 percent average rate increase for 27,500 policyholders.

The one company to propose a decrease, HealthyCT, has just 7,200 members to benefit from its 8.9 percent requested decrease. Unlike its Connecticut competitors, 2014 is the company’s first year of operation and the company still has no claims experience to base its rates on. (RELATED: All But One Washington State Insurer To Hike Premiums) 

HealthyCT also told state officials it would be spreading out administrative expenses and fees over three years instead of one year, as is typical, making it possible for them to lower their rates.

Overall, the track record for the Obama administration on Obamacare premiums is dismal, despite President Obama’s promise to lower premiums by $2,500 annually for the average family. In addition to the hikes released Tuesday, Virginia, Washington, Indiana and Ohio state officials have admitted that Obamacare customers in their states will be hit with cost increases in order to maintain their now-mandatory health coverage. (RELATED: Virginia First To Release Post-Obamacare Premium Proposals: Rate Hikes For All) 

The increases are likely to make it even more difficult for Obamacare exchanges to maintain their newly enrolled customers. While the Obama administration has touted its 8 million sign-ups (months after open enrollment ended, the federal government still has yet to reveal how many people paid for their plans), experts worry whether low-income customers will be able to keep paying their premiums every month. Rising costs may make continued insurance enrollment even more difficult for some.

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Sarah Hurtubise