Republican “sabotage” at the federal and state level is expected to drive another year of “substantial” increases in health insurance costs for individual plans, a progressive health insurance analyst told reporters in a conference call today.
“We know that the repeal of the individual mandate [in the new Trump tax law] supported by Colorado’s Republicans is expected to increase premiums by ten percent,” said Adam Fox, Director of Strategic Engagement for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, adding the “junk plans” now allowed by the Trump Administration will increase premiums even more.
The new tax law was backed by the Colorado congressional delegation, which includes U.S. Representatives Ken Buck, Mike Coffman, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton.
Republicans say the individual mandate imposed burdensome requirements on individuals, while its backers say it was needed to keep insurance costs lower by stopping healthier people from dropping their insurance plans and leaving mostly sicker, older, and more costly people buying insurance.
Next year’s proposed insurance rates are expected to be released by insurance companies July 13, said Fox. They will then be subject to public comment period of about three weeks. The Colorado Division of Insurance will release finalized rates in late August or September.
As another example of the GOP’s alleged “sabotage,” Fox discussed a bipartisan bill (H.B. 1392) that passed the Colorado House, with rural Republican support, that would have levied a small fee on all their health insurance plans, and the money would have gone to a shared fund to cover the highest claims. This was intended to stabilize costs of the individual insurance market, but the proposed law, implemented in other states, was killed in the Republican-controlled Colorado Senate.
One recent estimate predicts an average increase in Colorado’s individual market of 18 percent. Last year, the average across the state was 27 percent, according to Fox.
Coloradans who qualify for assistance under Obamacare will receive increased public funds to offset higher premiums, Fox said.
Some insurance companies have already announced premium increases in other states, and they have cited the Trump tax bill as a major contributor to higher costs, according to Leslie Dach of Protect our Care, a progressive advocacy organization focusing on health care.