California Obamacare Insurance Premiums Still Rising

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Health insurance premiums in California’s Obamacare exchange will rise again in 2015, the exchange announced Thursday. 

The average premium available on the exchange will rise by 4.2 percent when adjusted for the most popular plans. As has been the trend with other states, larger insurers provided the biggest hikes while those with fewer customers offered breaks. Some customers will receive breaks as much as 8.5 percent, while others will face hikes up to 16.7 percent.

Unlike other states’ preliminary requests, the new numbers are the result of negotiations between the exchange and insurers. (RELATED: Report Touts Pre-Obamacare Premium Hikes As Obamacare Pledge To Lower Costs Abandoned) 

The pool of health insurers participating in the exchange is shrinking, however. Just ten companies will offer health insurance on the exchange this year — three fewer insurers than participated last year, according to Reuters.

The ever-growing premium rates come just a year after premium costs skyrocketed for the individual market — not just the Obamacare exchange. California’s state insurance commissioner Dave Jones announced Tuesday that individual market premiums rose between 22 percent and 88 percent for Californians in 2014, when Obamacare regulations went into effect.

Jones, a Democrat, is currently making the case that because insurance premiums continue to rise at unfair levels, his office should be given the power to regulate all insurance market rate increases, not only those in Obamacare exchanges. Voters will decide whether to give Jones that power in a ballot measure in November.

It’s the ballot measure that may be keeping premium increases lower than otherwise expected. Jones predicted this week that the upcoming vote will sway insurers into keeping their premium hikes artificially lower for 2015, so as not to anger voters into giving the state the permanent power to regulate premiums industry-wide.

“There would be a huge public outcry and the public would respond at the ballot box,” Jones told the L.A. Times. “I have no question that what we’re going to see…will be much lower than would otherwise occur.”

California’s insurers are markedly better off than others across the country, because the state rejected the Obama administration’s “administrative fix,” which belatedly allowed customers in states that agreed to keep their health care plans that weren’t compliant with new Obamacare regulations. (RELATED: West Virginia Attorney General Sues Obama Admin For Obamacare’s ‘Administrative Fix’)

While the rush of insurance cancellations last fall caused a political backlash for the Obama administration — which had promised that customers could keep their health plans — insurance companies were promised the cancellations and had planned on a larger pool of healthier and previously insured customers. Top insurance companies have cited the Obama administration’s unilateral extension of the cancelled plans as a factor in their premium hikes this year.

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