According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a newly-released Health Insurance Exchanges Issuer County Map projects that nearly 40 percent of U.S. counties could have one health insurer operating in the Obamacare exchanges next year.
After compiling the most recent data provided by health insurers, the agency determined 1,300 counties would have only one insurer next year while 40 counties could be without any insurers.
“The map currently shows that nationwide 40 counties are projected to have no issuers, meaning that Americans in these counties could be without coverage on the Exchanges in 2018,” the agency said. “It’s also projected that 1,332 counties—over 40 percent of counties nationwide—could only have one issuer in 2018.”
The agency claims it could affect “more than 2.3 million Exchange participants” and leave them with only one choice for health coverage.
Despite dozens of counties not having access to an insurer offering health coverage, those individuals will still be forced to purchase healthcare plans under Obamacare’s individual mandate, otherwise, they will face a penalty of $695 to the Internal Revenue Service for not complying.
Although, lawmakers such as Senators Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) and Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) are pushing legislation, known as the Health Care Options Act of 2017, to protect those individuals by waiving the penalty and allowing them to purchase coverage outside of the exchanges.
“This legislation would help those in Knoxville and across the country by allowing any American who receives a subsidy and has no insurance available on their exchange next year to use that subsidy to buy any state-approved insurance off of the exchange,” said Sen. Corker. “Second, the bill would waive the Affordable Care Act requirement that these Americans, who have zero insurance options with their subsidies, have to pay a penalty for not purchasing insurance.”
“Third, this legislation will help bring peace of mind between now and the beginning of next year to millions of Americans, some of the most vulnerable people in the country, who face having zero options of health insurance to purchase with their subsidy,” he said.
In addition to declining coverage, the new data indicates that between 2016 and 2017 “the average premium increase for all Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) offered on the Health Insurance Exchange in the individual market was 21.6 percent.”
Another unsettling statistic is that carrier participation in the Health Insurance Exchange reduced 31.2 percent since the height of participation in 2015.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service Administrator Seema Verma issued this statement about the latest findings:
“We continue to see a decline in issuer participation in the Health Insurance Exchanges leaving consumers with fewer and fewer insurance options,” said Verma. “I am deeply concerned about the crisis situation facing the individual market in many states across the nation.”
President Trump sent out a two-part warning on Twitter Saturday afternoon, which adds weight to this report, as he stated, “After seven years of “talking” Repeal & Replace, the people of our great country are still being forced to live with imploding ObamaCare! If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!”
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