Republican Game-Playing Is Responsible for Three-Quarters of 2018 Obamacare Rate Increases

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It looks like health insurance rates will go up a lot next year, but not because medical inflation is high or because insurers aren’t making money under Obamacare. Mostly it’s because insurers are nervous about whether they’re going to lose the CSR subsidies that are part of Obamacare. President Trump has deliberately chosen to keep this dangling, so insurers have to raise their rate requests in case he decides to stop paying it. Insurers are also nervous about the individual mandate, which helps bring young, healthy customers into the insurance pool. Republicans have been talking about officially forbidding the IRS from enforcing it, and if that happens rates will have to go up too.

Charles Gaba has gone through the rate requests of 20 states, and he figures that these two things account for about 71 percent of the size of the rate hikes that have been requested so far. In other words, if insurers in your state are asking for a 20 percent increase, 6 percent of that is from normal causes and 14 percent is from deliberate Republican efforts to destabilize the individual market.

California’s exchanges are well run, and the state is fully committed to Obamacare. The state insurance commissioner has asked insurers to submit two rate requests for 2018—one with and one without uncertainty over CSR and the mandate—and these rate requests are set to be unveiled on Monday. It’s going to be an important bellwether.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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