Paul Demko | Obamacare’s November surprise

via Politico:

 

ObamaCare - Hindenberg disaster (200x200)Obamacare’s November surprise

Many consumers will see large rate increases for the first time Nov. 1 — a week before they go to the polls.

by Paul Demko | May 2, 2016

The last thing Democrats want to contend with just a week before the 2016 presidential election is an outcry over double-digit insurance hikes as millions of Americans begin signing up for Obamacare.
But that looks increasingly likely as health plans socked by Obamacare losses look to regain their financial footing by raising rates.

[…]

“I think a lot of insurance carriers expected red ink, but they didn’t expect this much red ink,” said Greg Scott, who oversees Deloitte’s health plans practice. “A number of carriers need double-digit increases.”

[…]

The timing, though, is bad news for Democrats. Proposed rate hikes are just starting to dribble out, setting up a battle over health insurance costs in a tumultuous presidential election year that will decide the fate of Obamacare.

And the headlines are likely to keep coming right up to Election Day since many consumers won’t see actual rates until the insurance marketplaces open Nov. 1 — a week before they go to the polls.

“Any reports of premium increases will immediately become talking points on the campaign trail,” said Larry Levitt, senior vice president for special initiatives at the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation. “We’re in an election where the very future of the law will be debated.”

[…]

Average rate hikes have been modest in the past despite apocalyptic predictions: Premiums increased by an average of 8 percent this year, according to an administration analysis. That report “debunks the myth” that Obamacare customers experienced double-digit rate hikes, said Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Ben Wakana.

But there are reasons to think the next round may be different.

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