Health insurance rates for Obamacare plans will skyrocket in 2017
Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | 10.17.16
(Harrisburg) -- People who buy health insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchange might get sticker shock as they shop for plans for next year.
Rates will go up an average of 42 percent in the midstate.
Some rate hikes are even higher - a Highmark plan will increase rates a whopping 55 percent.
Four different insurance carriers are offering plans in the midstate: Capital Blue Cross, Highmark, Geisinger and UPMC.
State Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller approved the increases and says she had little choice after looking at the numbers.
Every single plan lost millions in the market in 2015, and Miller is concerned there may not be much of a competitive market if she didn't okay the changes.
"I can push back on rates, and then we could've ended up in a situation where we had a number of areas in the state where people just didn't have access to the exchange and coverage on the exchange and access to those subsidies. To me, that was just an unacceptable scenario," says Miller.
Commissioner Miller says she pulled back rate increase requests from insurers last year, but after seeing their books, she felt she had to approve the latest requests.
"We can't force insurance companies to provide coverage in a particular market. The companies are only going to be willing to withstand losses for so long, and I can't force them to participate in this market," she adds.
Every insurance company offering coverage lost millions in the ACA's individual market in 2015, even before accounting for administrative costs.
Miller says she hopes the increases stabilize the Obamacare exchange in Pennsylvania, and future increases won't be as steep.
Earlier this year, both Aetna and UnitedHealth announced they're pulling out of Pennsylvania's ACA marketplace.
The latest news is expected to fuel concerns about the Affordable Care Act, which has faced a barrage of criticism, particularly from Republicans, since it was passed in 2010.