Obamacare Health Care Costs
10172017_Obamacare_Web_site_AP Alex Brandon, File/AP

In this May 18, 2017 file photo, the Healthcare.gov website is seen on a laptop computer, in Washington, D.C.

October 17, 2017

Trump cuts to drive up Obamacare premiums in Pennsylvania by 30 percent

Residents of Pennsylvania who have health insurance through Obamacare can expect their premiums to rise by an average of 30 percent in 2018.

Without President Trump's "deliberate disruption" of the individual market by halting cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers and Congress's inaction to appropriate the funds, the average increase would have been about 7.6 percent, according to the state's insurance department.

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

Last week, Trump announced that subsidies would no longer be paid to insurers. The subsidies help make co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs associated with health insurance policies more affordable for low-income people.

“This is not the situation I hoped we would be in..." said Altman, "...it is the reality that state regulators must face and the reason rate increases will be higher than they should be across the country.”

There are four levels of coverage under the Affordable Care Act – platinum, gold, silver, and bronze. Each level represents different levels of cost-sharing based of monthly premiums and total out-of-pocket costs. Rate increases will only be seen on the mid-level silver plans, which use cost-sharing reductions.

On-exchange bronze, gold, and platinum plans and off-exchange silver plans will not be impacted.

Altman encouraged people who do not qualify for premium subsidies to consider off-exchange options. The department worked with each of Pennsylvania’s five marketplace health insurers to ensure they would offer an off-exchange only option that is not impacted by the disproportionate rate increases for on-exchange silver plans. Off-exchange plans must be purchased directly through one of Pennsylvania’s five marketplace insurers or through an agent or broker licensed by the department to sell on behalf of these companies.

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department is partnering with Consumers’ Checkbook again this year to create a shopping tool that allows consumers to compare both on-exchange and off-exchange plans available in Pennsylvania. Consumers can enter their income to see what subsidies may be available to them and estimate the monthly premium and total annual cost of plans in their area. If consumers find a plan they would like to buy, the plan comparison tool will take them to either Healthcare.gov or the company’s website to make a purchase. 

Open enrollment for 2018 health insurance runs from November 1 to December 15 – a change from previous years. Consumers must sign up by December 15 in order to have coverage effective January 1. The open enrollment period may be the only time consumers can enroll for 2018, and those who do not purchase a plan may be subject to a penalty as well as being uninsured for the year. On-exchange plans can be purchased at Healthcare.gov. Consumers who need enrollment assistance can find free resources in their area here.

For more information on 2018 rates and resources for shopping for health insurance, visit the state insurance department.