Premium hikes worry those without government assistance

Money

The threat of health insurance premium hikes next year is worrying those who pay for their insurance without the help of government subsidies, according to the Associated Press, and could mean higher costs down the road for health insurers if these consumers opt for skimpier coverage in response.

Individuals making $47,520 a year and families of four making $97,200 do not qualify for these subsidies--which assist about 10 million Americans, the article notes. 

One such customer lives in a rural community with only one health insurance option, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, which is seeking premium increases of 60 percent for its plans through the Affordable Care Act for 2017. He tells the AP he can’t book medical appointments in his county, and wants the federal government to pay out subsidies to citizens in rural communities who only have one health insurance option.

Premium increase rates aren’t solidified yet, however. The Department of Health and Human Services has pointed out in a previous report that last year’s average premium hikes were at a much-lower-than-anticipated 8 percent.

The article does note that those without help from subsidies may qualify if they use Healthcare.gov to buy an insurance plan instead of directly through an insurer.

They can also look for plans with less expensive premiums, but this could mean less comprehensive coverage and bigger medical bills if they need treatment. And for insurers, that could lead to higher costs if financial concerns lead members' medical conditions to worsen.

To learn more:
- read the AP article