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News / Health / Health Wire

Premiums shoot up, but many are paying less for Obamacare

Published: April 3, 2018, 10:44pm

WASHINGTON — Consumers getting financial assistance under former President Barack Obama’s health care law will pay lower premiums this year, even though the “list price” for their health insurance shot up.

That odd result is reflected in a report issued Tuesday by the Trump administration.

After federal aid, the average monthly premium paid by subsidized customers on HealthCare.gov is dropping to $89 from last year’s $106. That’s a 16 percent savings even though the “list price” premium went up about 30 percent, now averaging $639 for those subsidized customers.

The bottom line is counterintuitive, but it shows how Obamacare subsidies cushion consumers from rising premiums.

Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, says more affordable health care options are needed for people who aren’t eligible for the Affordable Care Act’s income-based financial assistance.

But independent analysts say a big part of this year’s premium increases is due to actions by the Trump administration, including the cancellation of major payments to insurers.

Insurers jacked up premiums to make up for the loss of federal dollars to cover discounted co-pays and deductibles that the companies were required to provide to low-income customers. Congressional authorization of the payments was under a legal cloud, and President Donald Trump pulled the plug. Bipartisan efforts to restore the money recently fell apart over disputes about abortion coverage.