Many consumers who purchase health insurance through HealthCare.gov in 2017 will find that insurers have raised the premiums on health plans by an average of 25 percent, according to new government figures.
The disclosure of 2017 rates by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was touted by congressional Republicans and other critics as evidence that the insurance exchanges that are a core piece of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) aren’t working as they should.
“Families are stuck paying these higher premiums, and Democrats only want to double down on Obamacare,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). “There is a better way. Republicans are offering a plan to repeal Obamacare and replace it with real, patient-centered solutions that fit your needs and your budget. We don’t have to accept this kind of sticker shock.”
Administration officials downplayed the significance of the data, saying that the vast majority of consumers attempting to purchase insurance through the federal exchange qualify for subsidies that will help keep their costs manageable.
“The most important thing is people should not be dissuaded from considering the options that are available to them on the marketplace,” said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. “Republicans are just looking for the political benefit of being able to say they opposed the Affordable Care Act, and not actually looking for the kinds of constructive solutions that would reduce costs and expand access to quality, affordable coverage.”
With open-enrollment season starting on Nov. 1, some consumers are electing to roll the dice on having no insurance and pay the penalty to the IRS, which is roughly around $700 per person. According to the New York Times, the IRS receives about 8.1 million returns that include penalty payments for taxpayers who went without insurance.