by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Obamacare premium costs will soar 20.3 percent on average in 2016 instead of the 7.5 percent increase claimed by federal officials, according to an analysis by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The discrepancy is because the government excluded price data for three of the four Obamacare health insurance plans when the officials issued their recent forecast claiming enrollees would face only a 7.5 percent average rate increase in 2016.
When data for all four plans are included, premium costs will actually rise on average 20.3 percent next year. The 2015 Obamacare price hike was 2.0 percent.
The Obamacare program’s federal exchange operates in 37 states where officials declined to set up state-run exchanges. Officials in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Center for Medicare Services, which manages Obamacare, only calculated price changes for the health insurance program’s Silver plan, thus ignoring data for the Bronze, Gold and Platinum plans.
The CMS officials said they did so because the IRS uses the Silver plan as a “benchmark” for tax purposes. That approach, however, gave consumers an incomplete picture of what is happening in the health insurance marketplace through the Obamacare program.
The DCNF analysis reviewed price data for all four plans obtained from CMS, insurance companies, state insurance regulators and the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.
The 20.3 percent figure is the average for all plans. Premium increases in some states will be much higher. In Utah, for example, some enrollees in an individual plan will face a 45 percent price jump. In Illinois, the highest price hikes for individuals in the federal exchange will be 42.4 percent. Some insurers in Tennessee will experience a 36.3 percent price rise.