Affordable Care Act premiums to increase

Health industry officials say premiums related to the Affordable Care Act soon will increase, and in some cases double, The Hill's Healthwatch reported.

Last week, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said during a testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee that premiums won't likely rise after 2015; however, insurance executives contradicted her comments.

"It's pretty shortsighted because I think everybody knows that the way the [health insurance] exchange has rolled out ... is going to lead to higher costs," one senior insurance executive source told Healthwatch. The official added that his company plans to triple rates next year for exchange policies.

Rate increases will differ depending on region, state and insurer. For example, regions with a larger population of older, sicker consumers will see bigger hikes.

Those increases stem from the Obama administration's many delays and changes to the healthcare reform law, particularly the decision to allow consumers to remain covered under noncompliant plans. HHS now allows insurers to renew nongrandfathered plans for two more years, which could discourage some healthy consumers from enrolling in exchange plans.

"We're exasperated," the official said. "All of these major delays on very significant portions of the law are going to change what it's going to cost."

Moody's Investors Service agrees, predicting late last year that insurers will see major financial losses now that the Obama administration has delayed several aspects of the reform law.

What's more, young people, who are typically healthier and less expensive to insure, only comprise about 24 percent of all exchange enrollees. Such a low turnout of healthy, low-cost consumers contributes to insurers needing to raise rates.

To learn more:
- read Healthwatch article

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