Louisiana’s largest health insurer leads the pack of insurers requesting double-digit premium hikes for next year, further diminishing residents’ faith in the Affordable Care Act.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, which has approximately 134,000 enrollees in the state, seeks to raise its rates by 20.5 percent to 28.3 percent.
Other insurers asking for significant premium hikes are: Vantage seeking a hike of 30.7 percent on its 42,000 enrollees; Humana, 29.5 percent hike affecting 30,901 enrollees; and Aetna, 16.4 percent on 3,660 enrollees, according to filings with the Louisiana Department of Insurance.
Overall, the rate hikes affect more than 214,000 Louisiana residents who currently have health insurance coverage through Obamacare marketplaces.
In addition, due to UnitedHealth's decision to pull out of the Obamacare marketplaces in most states in 2017, 29,000 people covered by UnitedHealth plans in Louisiana will have to find new coverage next year.
“That is crazy,” U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA) told Patient Daily. “The average working mom and dad that are just trying to feed their family can’t afford these rate increases. Since the Affordable Care Act has been implanted, if you add up all of the increases, I think you are looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of 40-45 percent.”
Abraham said he recently heard from a young couple in his district (District 5) who has two children and are very healthy. Despite hardly ever going to the doctor, they received a notice from Blue Cross that their premiums were going up from $675 to almost $1,500.
“These are both parents that are working and they have good jobs, but when you double your insurance premiums and now you are paying basically more than what your house payment would be for health care, that is a problem and they can’t afford it,” he said.
Louisiana is just one of many states facing significant rate increases. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas is requesting increases averaging 57.3 percent to 59.4 percent across its individual plans. Insurers in Maine, North Carolina and Indiana are also requesting hikes, with more states expected to place similar requests in the coming weeks.
“... The objective data is again proving what we have been saying all along,” Abraham said. “The house is burning down around itself and what is happening, even though this last sign-up period they were predicting around 22 to 23 million, but they only got 12.5 million. And also of those that signed up, a lot of them signed up after the deadline.”
Abraham said people who signed up after the deadline were sicker patients, adding that everybody blames larger drug companies for increasing prescription costs, but blame should be placed on the Affordable Care Act because drug companies are being taxed to put money back into the Affordable Care Act.
“It is an animal feeding on itself and eventually there is nothing left to eat,” he said. “That is what has happened with the Affordable Care Act.”
Although the Affordable Care Act was designed to make health care coverage more affordable and more accessible to everyone, the ever-rising premiums prove to counter the benefits the act was supposed to provide. And with federal subsidies expiring at the end of the year, insurers are bound to pass the losses onto consumers.
The 2017 marketplace enrollment period opens this November – a week before the presidential elections. With premiums and deductibles set to increase substantially in 2017 in most states, Republicans are hopeful voters will vote for change.
“On the Republican side, we’ve got and have had
a replacement plan ready to go," Abraham said. "What we are hoping is that with a Republican
president, that in the first 100 days it will be repealed. The other
side always says, ‘You have nothing to put in its place,’ and I would beg to
differ. I’ve seen the proposal; it is solid; it is financially conservative; it
is very effective and affordable – whatever adjective you want to use on the
good side. We are ready, but we need to get Obamacare repealed first and that is
going to require Donald Trump winning the presidential election.”
Abraham added that nothing will contribute to the country’s demise more than not getting a grip of the nation’s debt.
“The thing that will slow this country before anything else will is our fiscal responsibility, which is what you get with Obamacare and everything we are not doing to take care of our own house,” he said. “I just see with Obamacare just another major nail in the coffin as far as fiscal irresponsibility is concerned.”