The dwindling support for Obamacare may be on the verge of flatlining altogether as premiums and deductibles are set to increase exponentially in most states when the marketplace opens up for 2017 health care enrollment, just one week shy of the November election.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) Silver Plan premium rates and deductibles are expected to increase, with Mississippi, Florida and Washington increasing by over $1,000. Mississippi enrollees will see the highest increase of $1,445.
Kansas provides a look into the public response toward Obamacare -- and how it impacts the upcoming presidential election.
“After 10 town halls in two days throughout western Kansas, it is clear that support for Obamacare is even less now than it was in 2010,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) recently told Patient Daily. “Across my district, small businesses, families and especially young adults report that Obamacare has increased their premiums and reduced their health care choices.”
Premiums and deductibles in Kansas are expected to rise by $473 when the marketplace opens up in November for 2017 enrollment.
Part of the premium hike is due to the expiration of the ACA reinsurance and risk corridor programs at the end of this year -- meaning that, for the first time in 2017, insurance premiums alone will have to cover medical expenses.
By law, insurers are required to sell policies equally to everyone, regardless of medical history -- which has resulted in higher claims for insurers due to a less healthy pool of consumers.
With the current subsidies, Obamacare enrollment in Kansas increased gradually in recent years because insurers were able to keep health care costs relatively stable.
According to a report by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 101,555 people enrolled in private health plans through the Kansas exchange during the 2016 open enrollment period. That number included renewals and new enrollees, compared to 96,197 who had signed up for Obamacare by end of the 2015 open enrollment period.
But with even higher premiums, it will be interesting to see how enrollment for 2017 will be affected.
Many GOP legislators have long warned that Obamacare would not only limit health care choices for Americans, but would end up costing Americans even more because of the large number of older and less healthy enrollees signing up.
“It has meant higher deductibles and fewer providers,” Huelskamp said. “And with more government, the result has been less liberty.”
While some health insurance companies will remain committed to Obamacare marketplace, UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurance company, has announced plans to exit most of its exchanges in 34 states in 2017 due to weak enrollment and high medical costs. Health care experts predict other insurers will follow suit.
With premiums and deductibles set to increase right before the presidential elections, the future of Obamacare may be in jeopardy.
Hillary Clinton has not wavered in her support of Obamacare and has dismissed Sen. Bernie Sanders’ call for an alternative choice that would guarantee health care for all Americans.
According to the most recent Kaiser Health Tracking poll, 49 percent of Americans disapprove of Obamacare, with just 38 percent showing support. The poll also shows that over the past month, the number of Democrats voicing unfavorable opinions increased by 6 percent.
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, wants Obamacare repealed.
“Obamacare has raised the economic uncertainty of every single person residing in this country,” Trump said on his campaign website. “As it appears, Obamacare is certain to collapse of its own weight, the damage done by the Democrats and President Obama -- and abetted by the Supreme Court -- will be difficult to repair unless the next president and a Republican Congress lead the effort to bring much-needed free market reforms to the health care industry.”
Huelskamp said the choice is clear for Kansas voters.
“Whether it is Hillary or Trump, Kansans made it clear: they will not vote for any presidential candidate who doesn't have a plan to reverse Obamacare,” he said.