HHS responds to double-digit Obamacare rate increases with data

Document titled "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act"

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Even if Affordable Care Act exchange premiums increase by more than 10 percent, more than two-thirds of consumers will still be able to buy coverage for less than $75 per month, according to the Department of Health and Human Services' latest Obamacare analysis.  

The ability to shop around for different insurance plans is touted in the HHS analysis, but there is some room for worry about where consumers will get those plans, as insurers back out of the exchanges: Physician Health Plan of Northern Indiana became the most recent domino to fall in the string of marketplace exits, according to The Fresno Bee.

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In one Arizona region, there are no insurers scheduled to offer plans during 2017 open enrollment, an issue HealthCare.gov CEO Kevin Counihan says he is working to fix.

While double digit rate increases may make for sexy headlines, these do not reflect what people actually pay for government-subsidized health plans since tax credits go up correspondingly, HHS said.

Michael Abrams, a healthcare management consultant and managing partner at Numerof and Associates, tells FierceHealthPayer via email: "The analysis paints a rosy picture of steep premium increases, but ignores the real issue of increasing costs in healthcare. Improving access to insurance is important, as is ensuring that pre-existing conditions don’t prevent people from getting insurance coverage. But the cost of healthcare is the real challenge we need to address, and that won’t be fixed until we change the way we deliver and pay for healthcare, and we still have a long way to go on those fronts."

All premiums will be finalized by October, according to HHS. Open enrollment debuts Nov. 1, 2016, just days before the Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump election showdown.

Health insurance has become especially politicized by the elections, as both sides stake claims to distinctly different visions of what healthcare in America will look like

- read the HHS analysis

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