The quietly successful reboot of Healthcare.gov can only come as a welcome relief to supporters of the Affordable Care Act, but there is no rest for the wonk. The Obama Administration has paired the second ACA enrollment period with a less happy announcement: many Americans who purchased insurance through Healthcare.gov could see increases of up to 20 percent in their premium payments next year unless they switch to different plans. More, via the NYT:
The new data means that many of the seven million people who have bought insurance through federal and state exchanges will have to change to different health plans if they want to avoid paying more — an inconvenience for consumers just becoming accustomed to their coverage. […]
In addition, different health plans often have different networks of doctors and hospitals and cover different drugs, meaning that consumers who change plans may have to pay more for the same medicines.
Another problem for consumers is that if the price for a low-cost benchmark plan in the area has dropped, the amount of federal subsidies provided by the law could be less, meaning that consumers may have to pay more unless they switch plans.
In other words, if you like your plan, you can keep it—for a price. For those who will be forced onto new plans because of the top-end hikes, President Obama’s promise that you can keep the plan you like has turned out to be untrue not only for Americans who were already insured but even ones who became insured through his own scheme.
The story points out that only some plans will see an increase as high as 20 percent. Most will see lower-level increases of four or five percent, generally considered “modest” when compared to recent health care history. But even at the rate of a five percent increase every year, our health care system is inexorably heading towards offering premiums that are far too expensive. When you reform coverage before reforming cost, this constant reshuffling and price increases can only be the natural result.