Insurers Just Confirmed Our Worst Fears About Trump’s Obamacare Sabotage


Late last week, Trump made the announcement everyone from the insured to insurance companies, from state health organizations to doctors and hospitals had been dreading for months – that he would eliminate subsidies that help low-income people afford co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs that come with health insurance.

Some insurers who anticipated this have opted out of Obamacare plans completely, and some states have instituted a surcharge (12.5 percent in the case of California, on top of a 12.5 percent overall increase) to help cover the expected increased burden.

Today, Pennsylvania announced that plans sold on its Obamacare exchange will surge by 30.8 percent for 2018. This news comes from the state’s insurance department which points blame primarily at Trump’s executive order.

If Trump had continued the cost-sharing payments, the Pennsylvania insurance department said the increase to consumers would have been just over seven percent.

“It is with great regret that I must announce approved rates that are substantially higher than what companies initially requested,” Acting Commissioner Jessica Altman said.

“This is not the situation I hoped we would be in,” added Altman, “but due to President Trump’s refusal to make cost-sharing reduction payments for 2018, and Congress’s inaction to appropriate funds, it is the reality that state regulators must face and the reason rate increases will be higher than they should be across the country.”

In Pennsylvania, the increase will only apply to mid-level “silver” health plans purchased on the insurance exchange.

Nationwide, about six million people will face higher charges because of Trump, according to CNN.

Since the enrollment for 2018 is very close, insurers have already had to lock in the prices for the coming year. In anticipation, many have already added increases to cover the expected liability.

For instance, Larry Levitt, senior VP for the Kaiser Family Foundation, said those insurers who have built in the end of the subsidy “are totally fine.”

Levitt estimated the increases customers will face will range from two percent to twenty-three percent in most places.

In Oregon, silver plans sold on the state exchange will increase premiums by 7.1 percent for 2018, to make up for the loss of $49 million in federal cost-sharing subsidies.

“These rate increases are necessary to ensure the stability of the health insurance market,” Jean Straight, acting director of the state Department of Consumer and Business Services, told CNN.
The abrupt way Trump withdrew leaves insurers responsible for paying the subsidies for the last three months of this year, at a cost of over $1 billion, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Last Friday, the two largest insurance lobbying groups, America’s Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, issued a rare joint statement with what CNN characterized “a dire warning: Trump’s move will hurt Americans.”

“These benefits help real people every day, and if they are ended, there will be real consequences,” the lobbying groups said. “This action will make it harder for patients to access the care they need. Costs will go up and choices will be restricted.”
In an unanticipated consequence, the higher premiums will hurt the federal government as well. They will result in an estimated $7.2 billion in added costs next year to cover higher rates, according to an Urban Institute analysis, reports CNN.

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the entire subsidy package for the year is going to cost the federal government $7 billion. This means what Trump did actually ends up costing the government a little more than it otherwise would have spent to help those millions of working poor whom the president often claims to represent.

What is sickening is that Trump is doing this out of revenge because his favored health plan, Trumpcare and its many iterations, repeatedly failed to pass (to the relief of millions). Trump has also been on a crusade to destroy any and all of President Obama’s accomplishments – his greatest accomplishment being, of course, health care reform.

So while Trump works to give the super-rich huge tax cuts by greatly increasing the national debt, he chisels away at a health plan that has helped millions get coverage for the first time while millions of others get the care they so desperately need.

There is a mean spirit to what Trump is doing, even if he claims it is to help people. That lie is as big as his campaign promise to give all Americans better health care at a lower cost.

As the health insurance groups said, what Trump is doing has real consequences. The people expected to be hurt the most are not his rich pals or big donors, but the working people and lower middle class he promised to help. Instead he screwing everything up.