CBO says premiums for ObamaCare’s silver plans will increase by 15 percent

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According to a new report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), premiums for ObamaCare’s benchmark silver plans will increase by an average of 15 percent in 2018. The increase is due primarily to “short-term market uncertainty,” the Thursday report indicated.

HealthCare.gov lists 4 categories of Health Insurance Marketplace plans. “Silver plans fall about in the middle: You pay moderate monthly premiums and moderate costs when you need care,” the site states. “Silver plans are the most common choice of Marketplace shoppers.”

Insurers, who must sign contracts by Sept. 27 to be able to participate in the ObamaCare markets next year, have asked for more certainty on key ObamaCare payments – cost-sharing reduction subsidies. The subsidies, which reimburse insurers for giving discounts to low-income patients, are now being made on a month-to-month basis under the Trump administration.

Insurers say they need to know they will be available on a long-term basis, and that the uncertainty is leading to higher premiums.

A bipartisan bill, being drafted by the Senate’s Health Committee, is working to fund the payments through at least 2018. Working on such a short timeline, its unclear if Republicans and Democrats will be able to find common ground before the late September deadline for insurers to sign the contracts.

Several insurers have pulled out of markets all over the country, contributing to higher premiums in 2018, the CBO said. According to the report, a higher percentage of the population is living in areas with only one ObamaCare insurer, leaving many counties with only one insurance option.

The CBO estimated that enrollment will increase this year, from 10 million to 11 million, and premiums are expected to be lower as uncertainty in the market is resolved.

CBO also estimates that additional states will expand Medicaid eligibility, and that more people will enroll in the program in states that have already done so, under the Affordable Care Act.

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