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Insurance premiums and taxes increase under Obamacare

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“Rate hikes for all” are coming due to Obamacare, predicts The Daily Caller, citing state insurance filings:

Virginians will see upped health insurance premiums in 2015 . . . according to the filings from the first state to release any information about what Obamacare could bring next year. The premium proposals were submitted to the state insurance office for official approval and were made public Monday. Each health plan expects to increase its prices in 201 past nominal increases for inflation, the Wall Street Journal reports. Anthem HealthKeepers, run by WellPoint, expects to up its premiums on and off Virginia’s Obamacare exchange by an average of 8.5 percent. . . others will see increases up to 16.6 percent. The fees are due to a multitude of Obamacare worries, including sicker new customers, an influx of demand for health care services from the newly insured and a plethora of new Obamacare taxes.

Big increases in premiums and deductibles loom after the November election, notes The Fiscal Times. Washington, D.C., recently imposed a one-percent health-insurance tax in the city to pay for the ballooning costs of its Obamacare health insurance exchange, increasing costs for both employers and individuals. Obamacare has increased the cost of employer-provided health insurance in the District of Columbia, as predicted by experts, who warned that small employers especially “may see their rates increase” in the city. Hot Air proclaims, “get ready for the next round of Obamacare price spikes.” Many will be plunged into the individual health insurance market as they lose their employer-provided coverage due to Obamacare. An NPR report “profiled AmeriMark, a catalog retailer with 700 employees that has long provided coverage for employees. However, the premiums for their 2013 plans escalated 30 percent for 2014, so they switched carriers and forced employees to pay a higher share of premiums with higher deductibles and co-pays.” As the Fiscal Times noted,

When Obamacare first rolled out last fall, the failure of the federal and state exchanges were only the first signs of disaster. Premiums spiked upward in both the individual and group markets, and insurers raised deductibles and narrowed provider networks to save themselves money. Millions of people lost their existing insurance plans in the individual market, and many ended up in plans that either didn’t fit or cost far more than they spent in the past. . . .

Most of the individual-market enrollments [in Obamacare] were simply churn created by the market disruption of Obamacare itself. Those enrollments barely made a dent in the claimed numbers of the uninsured, estimates of which range between 30-40 million.

Now that insurers have seen the composition of their new risk pools under Obamacare, they have to calculate their new pricing levels for state and federal regulators. . .The pricing proposals from Virginia and Washington indicate that the new enrollments made the risk pools riskier than first thought.

Rate-proposal filings in the state of Washington show the four largest insurers proposing average increases across their plans ranging from 8.1 percent to 11.2 percent in a single year. Jonathan Wu of Value Penguin analyzed the proposals and concluded that the insurers tried betting on success, and came up short. “What is troubling about the data is that among these insurers, there is clearly an issue with the premiums offered in the first enrollment period,” Wu writes. . .[so] their consumers may get a less-pleasant surprise by the end of the year.

In Virginia, two insurers control 86 percent of the market, and both propose steep increases in 2015 premiums. Anthem, which has 113,614 of the roughly 170,000 enrollments, wants to boost prices by an average of 8.5 percent next year, while CareFirst wants a hike of 14.9 percent. All five insurers in the Virginia exchange want price hikes. . .If the Obamacare experience in these two states provides any indication, Wu writes, “then consumers might need to brace themselves for rate hikes in the coming months.”

In 2013, the Washington Examiner, citing a joint House-Senate report, predicted huge premium increases due to Obamacare:

Health insurance companies, facing new and costly rules and regulations jammed into Obamacare, will boost the premiums on younger Americans as high as 189 percent as they try to recover the new costs imposed by Washington, according to a joint House-Senate report. Families could see premiums rise to $7,186. In an exhaustive review of 30 studies on the impact of Obamacare, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senate Finance and Health, Education, Labor & Pensions committees concluded that younger individuals who now pay a premium of $648 a year will be paying $1,872, a 189 percent jump, once the health reform law fully takes effect.

This so-called “rate shock” from Obamacare has previously hit other states like Ohio. The state’s Department of Insurance announced in 2013 that the average individual-market health insurance premium in 2014 will cost approximately $420,” per month, “representing an increase of 88 percent.” “We have warned of these increases,” said Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. “Consumers will have fewer choices and pay much higher premiums for their health insurance starting in 2014.” Projected costs ranged from $282.51 to $577.40 for individual health plans. “But for many experts who understand the economics of health insurance, the premium increases are not shocking at all. In August of 2011, the actuarial firm Milliman predicted that the Affordable Care Act would increase individual-market premiums in Ohio by 55 to 85 percent. Earlier, Obamacare resulted in hikes of 41-47 percent in health insurance premiums for some policyholders in Connecticut.

Obamacare is increasing unnecessary medical tests, wasting more of doctors’ time, and increasing medical billing costs. Obamacare’s architects refused to include legal reforms to reduce the cost of healthcare and the wasteful defensive medicine and unnecessary medical tests that result from it. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who opposed such reforms, said that they would save “only” $54 billion. The Pacific Research Institute estimates just one type of cost that could be reduced through malpractice-lawsuit reform – defensive medicine — costs around $200 billion annually. One reform opposed by liberal lawmakers — setting up specialized health tribunals to hear malpractice cases — would be particularly helpful. Replacing uninformed juries with specialized health courts would provide more consistent rulings from case to case, discourage meritless cases, reduce defensive medicine, and more speedily compensate injured people who truly are victimized by doctors’ carelessness. Such tribunals already exist in countries such as “Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and New Zealand.”

Obamacare will also reduce employment by about two million people, notes the Congressional Budget Office. Obamacare is also causing layoffs in the medical device industry. Even liberal Democrats in the Senate, such as Al Franken, have admitted that the medical-device tax contained in Obamacare will wipe out many jobs. In December 2012, Franken called it a “job-killing tax” that will “impair American competitiveness in the medical device field.” Employers are now cutting full-time workers and replacing them with part-time workers to avoid Obamacare mandates that apply to full-time employees, as the Huffington Post and Fox News have chronicled. Obamacare contains perverse work disincentives and bizarre income-cliffs for access to Obamacare subsidies that reduce employment. Obamacare imposed at least seven taxes that apply to people that apply to people making less than $250,000 a year. That is in addition to the fee of $63 per insured person imposed nationwide on health insurance by HHS under Obamacare.

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