Coloradans that don’t get tax credits will experience rate shock and insurers could leave market
DENVER – Last night the Trump administration announced it would stop crucial payments to insurance companies that make using health insurance more affordable for low and moderate income Americans. This decision will raise premiums an average 15-20 percent according to the Congressional Budget Office and leave an estimated 1 million fewer Americans without insurance. Consumers that do not qualify for tax credits to reduce their premiums will experience rate shock as they struggle to afford coverage. Trump’s order throws the individual market into chaos just days before open enrollment is scheduled to start.
“This decision by the Trump Administration harms Coloradans who purchase insurance for themselves by increasing their premium costs,” said Adela Flores-Brennan, Executive Director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. “With only days until open enrollment, this action destabilizes the market, severely undermines affordability and is simply unconscionable.”
Insurance companies are still required to offer the cost-sharing reductions for those people that qualify based on their income. However, insurance companies will no longer be reimbursed for providing these reductions, which will lead them to raise insurance premiums on everyone in the individual market. In June, a survey of insurance companies indicated that 42 percent of insurance companies said they would pull out of the marketplaces if cost-sharing payments were discontinued.
Instead of paying $7 billion a year to make health insurance more affordable by lowering consumers’ deductibles and copays, the federal government is expected to pay $200 billion more to provide tax credits for those that qualify as premiums increase. While consumers that qualify for tax credits will be insulated from the premium increases, consumers that do not qualify for tax credits — nearly 40 percent of marketplace enrollees in Colorado — will see average rate increases jump substantially higher than the average 26.7 percent reported earlier this year.
“This is a spiteful, harmful action by the Administration that is the height of irresponsibility and sabotage of our health care system,” said Flores-Brennan. “This decision could send insurance companies fleeing the marketplaces and leave consumers with fewer or no coverage options. Congress must move immediately to stabilize the individual market with a bipartisan bill and reinstitute these cost-sharing payments, or Colorado’s individual market could spiral out of control rapidly.”
Colorado’s Division of Insurance must now decide whether to use the requested secondary rate filings submitted by insurers as a contingency in the event that the cost-sharing payments were stopped and whether that could delay the start of this year’s open enrollment period. Coloradans will have to wait to hear whether insurance plans that filed rates for 2018 will leave the marketplace.
Protect Our Care Colorado is a coalition of 48 organizations in Colorado advocating to protect the health care of Coloradans. To learn more about the coalition, visit ProtectOurCareCo.org.