The GOP's current silence on Obamacare will likely end when insurers release their 2015 premiums. While Benghazi has become the latest call to action on the right, policy wonks are anticipating a renewed interest as insurers begin releasing their 2015 premium proposals. Though all rates are only estimates until they're approved by the state insurance commissioner, any double-digit increases will likely draw attention back to Obamacare. In anticipation of the upcoming premiums battle, here are a few things to consider going forward:
New rates depend on the old rates
As The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, Molina Healthcare submitted a 6.8 percent decrease in rates for its Washington customers. Insurers like Molina who priced "cautiously" (as in, too high) last year are facing pressure to be more competitive this year. Molina also found that their enrollees are healthier than they expected, and they'll gain more healthy customers when the individual mandate fine increases. Meanwhile, insurers in the area who released lower 2014 rates are raising prices. Washington's Group Health Cooperative, which had some of the lowest priced 2014 plans, is planning to raise its prices by 11.2 percent.
Most Obamacare enrollees are getting subsidies
Rate increases won't affect people whose plans are heavily subsidized, notes Drew Altman at The Wall Street Journal. Eighty-five percent of enrollees received some sort of premium assistance, which will keep their payments a certain percentage of their income. As long as their income stays the same, rate increases won't affect them personally. However, they will affect the 15 percent of individuals not being subsidized, and American taxpayers, who will pay more for subsidies. This will be important to remember when ads featuring premium hike victims begin airing.
Some states are predicted to see hikes
As the National Journal points out, some states experienced a series of factors that will likely lead to higher premiums. West Virginia is rural, has a relatively unhealthy population, only enrolled 60 percent of its enrollment target and only 19 percent of those enrolled are in the 18 to 34 range. The state also only has one insurer, meaning competition is low. Also, states that embraced the cancelled plan fix may also see some increases, since the people most likely to accept that option were younger.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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