ObamaCare premiums would likely be decreasing next year if the Trump administration and congressional Republicans had left the law alone, according to a new study.
The analysis from Matt Fiedler at the Brookings Institute found premiums would be 4.3 percent lower in a “stable policy environment” — meaning certain ObamaCare rules like the individual mandate were still in place, and access to short-term plans had not been expanded.
Congressional Republicans eliminated the penalty for not having having health insurance as part of the 2018 tax law. And the Trump administration this week finalized rules lifting an Obama-era limitation on “short term” plans that don’t meet ObamaCare’s coverage rules.
Both policy changes are generally expected to cause healthier people to leave the individual market, raising premiums for those who stay.
The study noted premium increases will vary considerably across insurers and geographic areas in any policy scenario, because different insurers will have different expectations about how the cost of providing coverage will change in 2019.
States are so far reporting modest rate increases for next year. Eight states say the average proposed rate increase is below 10 percent, and five states say average increases will exceed 10 percent. In some other states, premiums are actually decreasing.
The study also found insurers are making large profits this year, in large part due to the massive premium increases in 2018. They’ll likely see a profit margin of more than 10 percent from their ObamaCare plans this year, up from just 1.2 percent last year, and substantial losses in the years before.
By Nathaniel Weixel – 08/02/18 11:36 AM EDT