Opponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have made plenty of dire predictions since it was first signed into law in 2010, and this year brings a new crop of criticism. Some insurers are raising their premiums for 2017, and a chorus of critics are predicting extreme scenarios of skyrocketing – and unaffordable – prices.
However, many people covered won’t notice much difference in their monthly costs, and some may even see a decrease. This is part of the reason why our team at HealthSherpa always recommend that individuals and families shop for new coverage each year to get the best coverage at the best price. Here are the facts that make up the 2017 health insurance landscape:
Insurance Companies Are Adjusting to the ACA
When the ACA became law, insurers were suddenly flooded with the cost of covering health conditions that had gone untreated as the newly insured population began to have access to medical care. In the absence of information on how many sick people and how many well people would sign up for individual plans, insurers had to make guesses in order to set their initial rates. In many cases, these guesses were far too low. Now those rates require adjusting, but the early-stage costs of untreated pre-existing conditions are also decreasing.
Subsidies Cushion the Premium Rates
While premiums will increase in some regions, the tax credits that subsidize the costs of these premiums for 85 percent of individual plan holders will cover most of the price increases. Furthermore, Congress just passed a bill that temporarily removes a tax that insurance companies had to pay on their income from consumer premiums. This financial assistance to insurance companies will have the effect of lessening the price tag for consumers.
All Health Care is Becoming More Expensive
It’s important to remember that the cost of health insurance plans would have risen faster if the Affordable Care Act were not in place. There are many reasons for these growing costs, including more high-tech types of treatments, new pharmaceutical products and increasing hospital rates.
Some Plans Will Decrease in Price
In some cases, insurers guessed too high when they made their initial estimates of costs. Because of this, the nation will see a mixed bag of increases and decreases; it all depends on your geographic region and carrier.
It’s still the early days and final figures on 2017 premiums have not yet been published. Meanwhile, millions of Americans who previously had no access to health care are now able to go to the doctor and become employable again. Inevitably, a healthier population will result in a stronger economy. If you have concerns about your current coverage or are planning to shop during the next Open Enrollment Period, our Consumer Advocates are available year-round to talk with you.