In the Health Reform Update for this week, federal data shows that lower Marketplace competition is causing premiums for benchmark coverage to increase by an average of 22 percent nationwide, though wide variations exist among states. The rate spike is more than three times the average increase for 2016, but premiums are still in line with Congressional Budget Office projections prior to enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Due to fewer numbers of Marketplace insurers, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is predicting that only 1.1 million more consumers will enroll in Marketplace coverage next year.
The Marketplace Access Project (MAP) reports that more than 85 percent of public comments received by HHS support a federal prohibition against Marketplace insurers deliberately making coverage unaffordable for persons with costly disorders by barring any third-party premium assistance from charitable groups. A Congressional bill forcing that change has received 130 bipartisan cosponsors. New federal civil rights complaints reveal that seven insurers in eight states are continuing to discriminate against persons with HIV/AIDS by making their drug coverage as unaffordable as possible.
The nation’s largest trade association for health insurers is fighting efforts by Congressional Republicans to prevent health plans from receiving the millions of dollars in payments that they are due under the ACA for serving subscribers with exceptionally costly claims.