The Obama administration is standing by its claim Obamacare is making health care more affordable for most Americans, despite numerous reports showing out-of-pocket costs have skyrocketed since the Affordable Care Acts implementation.
A number of major insurance companies announced this year they were pulling out of several Obamacare exchanges and increasing premiums in the wake of major losses– losses due to the president’s landmark health-care legislation. Despite the negative response from insurers, the Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday the growth rate of premium increases is at a record low.
The agency said that even with double-digit increases, most plans would still be affordable to most Americans in 2017.
“Today, a new HHS analysis finds that HealthCare.gov consumers would continue to have affordable coverage options, even if all Marketplace final health insurance premium rates were to increase by double digits next year,” the agency said. “In a hypothetical scenario where all rates increase by 25 percent, the vast majority of consumers (73 percent) would be able to purchase coverage for less than $75 per month, according to today’s report.”
According to a March study released by the libertarian non-profit Freedom Partners, premiums increased by 5 percent on average nationally between 2010 and 2015 and jumped by an average of 8 percent nationwide in 2016. In July, the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation projected that premiums would increase by a a weighted average of 9 percent on the lowest-cost silver plans in 2017.
HHS disputed the claims, arguing tax credits increase along with premiums, thereby balancing out the jump.
“Headline rate increases do not reflect what consumers actually pay,” Kathryn Martin, acting assistant secretary for planning and evaluation, said in a statement. “Our study shows that, even in a scenario where all plans saw double digit rate increases, the vast majority of consumers would continue to have affordable options.”
The agency went on to argue the exchanges give consumers the ability to shop around for the plan that best suits their needs, but according to Washington-based health care consulting firm Avalere’s latest analysis, options for many Americans will be cut in the near future.
The study shows 55 percent of the country will have two options or less to choose from on the exchanges in the wake of numerous major insurers leaving the marketplace.
Republican lawmakers slammed HHS’ report, alleging it glazes over major issues Americans now face due to Obamacare.
“After a summer of clear and painful Obamacare failures, this report is a desperate attempt to shift attention away from skyrocketing premiums, collapsing co-ops, and insurers fleeing from the exchanges,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady said in a statement. “This report simply won’t change the reality that Obamacare continues to hurt more people than it helps because it imposes not only higher costs, but also higher taxes and fewer options. Americans deserve a better choice. House Republicans will continue to remain focused on delivering a health care plan that will expand access, increase quality and choice, and reduce health care costs.”
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