Health insurance premiums on the Obamacare marketplace in Florida will increase by an average of 45 percent next year, according to state officials.
“Rates for individual major medical plans…may increase an average of 44.7% beginning on January 1, 2018,” Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation announced in a statement Tuesday.
The majority of more than 1 million Florida Obamacare consumers, however, will pay about the same or less for their healthcare in 2018 thanks to federal subsidies. About 7 percent of customers without government subsidies could see their rates nearly double.
The state released data this week for the six health insurers who will sell plans offered under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “Obamacare.”
While premiums have steadily increased since the exchange opened in 2014, officials and regulatory experts said rates are increasing drastically in 2018 due largely to President Trump’s continued threats and mixed messages on whether the federal government will stop paying subsidies that are meant to lower out-of-pocket costs for consumers.
Steven Ullmann, a healthcare policy expert at the University of Miami, told the Miami Herald Tuesday that insurers are on the defense by raising premium rates to deal with the uncertainty over the cost-sharing subsidies.
“There’s so much indecision,” he said. “That’s the killer.”
“There seems to be a lot of uncertainty and at this point, it’s a month-by-month decision,” said Florida Blue spokeswoman Christie Hyde DeNave in a statement, referring to President Trump’s refusal to fully commit to the cost-saving reductions program. “There haven’t been any assurances that they will be funded for the full 2018 year.”
Florida Senator Bill Nelson agreed that uncertainty from the Trump administration has caused the large hikes for 2018.
“These massive rate hikes are a direct result of the administration’s efforts to sabotage the nation’s health-care law,” said Nelson. “We should be focused on finding real bipartisan solutions to stabilize the marketplace and make health care more affordable, not playing politics with people’s lives. That’s why Sen. Collins and I have introduced a bipartisan bill that would help states establish their own reinsurance program and drastically lower rates.”
This enrollment season marks the first time that enrollment in the exchange will begin under Trump, who campaigned on abolishing the law but has repeatedly failed to do so. His administration and far-right Republican lawmakers have been unable to deliver on their promise to “repeal and replace” the 2010 health care law.
Additionally, continued political uncertainty in the marketplace has caused the number of participating insurers in Florida to drop drastically since 2015.
According to data released by the state, a total of nine health insurance companies submitted rate filings for 2018. There were 14 participating companies in 2017, 19 participating companies in 2016, and 21 participating companies in 2015. In 2018, Florida will have 42 counties — mostly in the panhandle — that are served by only one carrier.
Florida has led the nation in enrollment on the federal exchange with more than 1.4 million consumers. About 75 percent of those customers received subsidies to help pay for their insurance, according to the federal government.