by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Insurers are preparing for Obamacare customers double-digit rate increases to be announced in coming months, handing Republicans a key talking point as they try to persuade voters to accept a repeal of the 2010 health care law.
The people signing up for Obamacare so far are sicker than expected, meaning insurers will have to raise rates to cover the costs, in what nonpartisan analysts said amounts to a “market correction.”
Even as insurers grapple with a most costly population, they are about to lose some of the supports built into Obamacare that have helped mitigate their losses in the first couple of years of operation.
“That could result in many insurers having rate increases that exceed 10 percentage points,” said Cynthia Cox, associate director of health care reform and private reform at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.
President Obama insists the Affordable Care Act is working and hopes a Democrat will win the White House in November and preserve the law.
But Republicans say the cracks already are showing. They point to signs such as UnitedHealth Group’s decision to stop offering plans in many state markets as proof that the law’s economics are collapsing.
“I think that Obamacare is going to be a huge issue in this campaign. The next couple of months in particular are going to be quite tough for the law,” said Lanhee J. Chen, a Hoover Institution fellow who advised 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on health care.
Whether Republicans will capitalize, though, is in doubt.