Obama care is still alive

Obama care is still alive
November 02
08:00 2017

Open enrollment for 2018 health insurance began on Nov. 1, just weeks after President Donald Trump took action to end Affordable Healthcare Act subsidies that help millions of Americans buy insurance.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina assured its customers in a statement on Oct. 18, that insurance companies have set their rates for 2018, so they’re required to still give their ACA customers discounts based on their income.

“Last week’s executive order from President Trump ending cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to insurers does not impact 2018 premiums,” said the statement. “However, ending these federal reimbursements will drive up premium costs and make it harder for insurers to participate in the ACA marketplace in the long run.“

While congressional Republicans and Trump administration officials talk about the “death spiral” of the ACA, which they call Obamacare, the instance market seemed to be stabilizing in North Carolina. Blue Cross NC said its average rate increase request for ACA plans would’ve been close to zero if subsidizes had remained. The average rate of increase approved by the N.C. Department of Insurance for Blue Cross was 14.1 percent. The company lowered its request to that amount from an initial request of 22.9 percent. This is lower than its average rate increase last year of 24.3 percent.

“The individual market in North Carolina has become less volatile,” wrote Blue Cross’ Brian Tajlili in an online post earlier this year. “At Blue Cross NC, we have gotten a better handle on the anticipated medical costs of people covered in this group, which has made it easier for us to estimate the necessary price of our ACA health plans.”

Blue Cross NC reported a $38 million loss on ACA patient care in 2016, a far cry from the $283 million loss in 2015. The company is the only insurer offering ACA plans in all 100 counties in North Carolina and currently insures 502,000 ACA customers.

ACA subsidies are paid directly to insurance companies to reduce the rates of those making between 100 percent and 250 percent of the poverty level. North Carolina is among 18 states and the District of Columbia suing the Trump administration over ending the subsidies.

To sign up, renew or check on subsidies and plans, go to Open enrollment for 2018 ends Dec. 15.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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