(Report) GOP Efforts to Sabotage Obamacare Will Raise Premiums By Average Of $1K

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)Gage Skidmore / CC - 2.0 / Flickr

Republican repeal of the individual mandate along with expanding short-term plans will cause a steep rise in premiums.

According to a recent analysis by the Center for American Progress, due to Republican changes to the Affordable Healthcare Act, individuals purchasing health insurance through the government-run marketplace could see premiums rise in 2019 by $1,000 on average.

As part of the tax law passed last December, Republican lawmakers effectively eliminated the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act by reducing the penalty for not having insurance to zero starting next year. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the move would increase Obamacare premiums by 10 percent, largely due to the declining quality of the insurance pool as healthier customers dropped their coverage.

Additionally, the Trump administration has proposed expanding the availability of short-term health care plans that are not required to meet the standards laid out in the ACA. Customers with pre-existing conditions are generally not eligible for these lower-cost plans and are more likely to keep their Obamacare plans, leaving insurers on the federal marketplace with a less healthy and thus more expensive insurance pool. Insurers have reportedly already starting increasing prices for 2019 to reflect the potential change.

CAP estimates this “marketplace sabotage” to raise the average annual cost of a benchmark premium for a 40-year-old by about 16.4 percent.

The Fiscal Times notes that benchmark plans are set by states in accordance with the ACA’s rules.

What would this look like in practice?

In dollar terms, CAP estimates that the national average premium for a benchmark plan for a 40-year-old will be $7,189 a year in 2019. Without the recent changes to the rules, the premium cost would have been $6,176. The figures vary considerably from state to state, ranging from no estimated change in Massachusetts to a $2,066 increase in Wyoming.