Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

The Future of Health Care in W.Va. ; under Affordable Care Act, Costs Will Rise and Coverage Will Underwhelm

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

The Future of Health Care in W.Va. ; under Affordable Care Act, Costs Will Rise and Coverage Will Underwhelm

Article excerpt

Jan. 1 marks the third anniversary of the Affordable Care Acts implementation in West Virginia. So it makes sense for West Virginians to ask: How is the law playing out in your state? Not well. Roughly 33,000 people purchased 2016 health insurance on the states Affordable Care Acts online exchange, where they likely found an unpleasant surprise.

Monthly premiums for their plans will be 24 percent higher, on average, than they were in 2015. Deductibles and outof- pocket costs are also on the rise, and health-care provider networks are narrowing.

The combination of these factors helps explain why the federal government recently halved the number of people it expects to sign up for the laws health insurance.

Yet while the outlook for the Affordable Care Act is already bleak, the data show it will likely become even worse.

Thats the result of an analysis I conducted in recent weeks.

Using the latest health-insurance- exchange enrollment data and a model funded in part by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I estimated how the Affordable Care Act will affect the health insurance market over the next decade.

In brief: Costs will continue to rise and coverage will continue to underwhelm. In fact, coverage will likely begin declining in the next few years, leaving millions more Americans uninsured than today.

The looming premium increases in West Virginia show next year will be a particularly rough one, but subsequent years will also be costly.

I project premium increases for 2017 health insurance will average at 7.4 percent for individual plans. Family policy holders will likely pay 6.2 percent more.

That trend will hold for years to come; the Affordable Care Acts tax dollar assistance programs for insurers, known as risk corridors and re-insurance, will expire at the end of next year, leading to further growth in premiums.

Over the next decade, I estimate individual and family policy holders will see their rates increase over 61 percent by 2025. That comes to $5,500 a year for an individual policy, and $23,500 for family coverage, on average.

Even federal subsidies will not be enough to cover these costs. …

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