More Health Insurers Seek Double Digit Premium Increases Under Obamacare



The past month has provided a few hints that the relatively modest premium increases we've seen under Obamacare may not last for long, and today brings a few more.

In Maryland's largest health insurer has requested rate hikes up to 30.4 percent for the vast majority of its members, reports the Baltimore Sun. Large insurers in several other states are officially targeting double-digit increases as well, according to Jed Graham of Investor's Business Daily. Tennessee's biggest insurer, BlueCross Blue Shield, which covers 165,000 people in the state, has asked for a 36.3 percent hike, and the top insurer in Michigan is looking at a 9.8 percent hike. 

Why the big hikes? The 25.6 percent rate increase sought by Moda Health, which covers 100,000 people in Oregon, may provide a clue: As Graham notes, costs for the health plan exceeded premiums by 61 percent in 2014. The next largest insurer in the state is also seeking a double digit rate increase. Basically, the premiums charged so far aren't an accurate representation of how much it costs to cover the people who are enrolled. 

This is the big question going forward for Obamacare premiums: Are the modest average increases we've seen so far really sustainable? Or are we seeing what are essentially "teaser" rates that will have to be raised once costs are factored in?

It's entirely possible that regulators will push back against plans that request big hikes, as they did last year. But insurers this round will have more data with which to argue for increases going forward: This year's rates are the first in which insurers have a full year's worth of cost data on which to base their rate requests.

Regulators have some incentive to push back where they feel they can, but consumers may not have to worry too much about higher rates, because, as Graham notes, most are subsidized, which limits the pocketbook impact of any hike. But if consumers aren't too affected by those hikes, then that means the taxpayers who ultimately fund those subsidies will end up paying for them instead. Somewhere down the line, someone always has to pay. 

NEXT: Alarmist Marco Rubio: 'Nothing Matters If We Aren't Safe.' Okay, I'm Alarmed.

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  1. Just give up now and accept single payer.

    1. Some things are too important to be left to the whims of the market and the profit motive. Single payer it shall be soon.

      1. I think we need single payer for legal services as well. Why should people have less competent representation when their lives and livelihoods are on the line just because they aren’t wealthy?

        1. Any why not, then, single payer food services? Why should people have less access to nutrition-rich-yet-flavorful foods when their children’s lives are on the line just because they aren’t wealthy?

          1. This is the argument I try to use on lefty friends. Food is more crucial than medicine, right? People can go for decades without medical care, but a month without food would kill most of us. So why not have the government take over food production and distribution? They’ll then say: “Medicine is different because it can be so expensive,” to which I reply: “OK, then ‘single payer’ shouldn’t include the less expensive parts? And you know that a major reason medical care is expensive is that government has been regulating and subsidizing it for a century, right?”

        2. This is the one argument that gets my Democrat lawyer friends to shut up.

          And actually, there might be a stronger case for Single Payer law than for medicine.

  2. Mine went up about 50%.

    I wish it were just “double digits”.

    1. I had the option of +8% with my grandfathered plan or +80% with one that fully meets Ocare requirements.

      Im sticking with my old one as long as I can. I have gotten 2 extra years so far, one year at a time.

      1. Note: The Ocare compliant plan is *worse* than my current plan.

        1. It’s not worse if you can get all prenatal care you’ll ever need.

          1. And that sex change that I totally haven’t been thinking about.

            1. For you or for robc? Because I have plans within plans… if you catch my drift.

      2. I was grandfathered, but I had a kid, and they re-rated the plan when I added him.

        1. Technically, your wife had the kid, not you. :-p

    2. I believe that 50% is double digits

  3. We must stop wasting all this money going into the hands of rich capitalists! That’s why we need single-payer! It doesn’t waste money by giving it to rich people! That’s why government is more efficient than the private sector! It doesn’t waste money by giving profits to rich people! Anyone who says otherwise is a wealth apologist!

    1. VA for everyone. A really smart person said so.

      1. Well, the VA is an incredibly well-run organization, and everybody is happy with their VA care. Why wouldn’t we all want it?

        1. And the doctors are lining up, just dying to work at the VA hospitals. It’s a win for everyone!

          1. Correction: It’s the PATIENTS that are dying.

      2. Unfortunately nobody said so during the healthcare debates in 2009-10. If Team Stupid, had just answered every question with “Well, sure healthcare needs reform – but Team Blue’s plan sucks because the government can’t even run the VA system properly” we probably wouldn’t have Obamacare.

        1. Team Blue cannot admit that because to them soldiers are sacred, and to admit that they’re not taking care of them wouldn’t go over very well.

          1. I really would like Team Blue to promise to spend some serious time to fix the VA.

            Then when they couldn’t do it, they’d have learned a lesson.

            But instead they just move onto a new project that sounds cool and leave a bunch of broken down junk from the last one behind.

        2. Most of the VA problems were being hidden then.

          For example, wait times were way down.

          Now we know why. Secret wait lists.

          Several pundits seriously promoted the VA as the model for single payer then.

  4. *groans*

    Can’t wait till my increase shows up.

  5. Seriously, how are the Democrats even in existence anymore? It should be the GOP vs. the LP or something, anything, else.

    Jesus, I am so fucking tired of getting ripped off by the fucking government and its minions.

    1. Never underestimate the power of a corrupt media or the Republicans’ ability to shoot themselves in the foot

    2. But…that’s literally what government is. it’s what it does. It is nothing but a formalized extortion scheme. Fuck you, pay me. That’s it, ProL.

      1. Oh, sure, but there’s theft, grand theft, and I’ll be taking all of this stuff theft.

      2. You know, Chris Christie reminds me of Paulie, a little bit.

    3. “Seriously, how are the Democrats even in existence anymore?”

      This is a good question. Because in the politics-of-old, the voters would have set the dogs on them. But these new post-millennial times are different. Scary different.

      1. I know a good number of people are dissatisfied with the way things are today, yet they do nothing to punish the politicians who either have made things worse or failed to get the fangs out of our economy.

        You know, I used to be amazed at groups that seemed to not hold politicians accountable for their actions. The classic example has been black voters, who have voted almost unanimously for Democrats for a long while. That seems to have drifted into the mainstream, which is, I must say, a horrifying development. One of the biggest surprises in politics in a generation is Obama’s reelection during a shit economy. And it had nothing to do with anything he did, campaign-wise or governing-wise.

        1. Is it really surprising? Dems have controlled the narrative masterfully and paint every one of their inevitable policy failures as the fault of their rivals. At times it’s close to self-parody, like California’s state assembly, but so long as they can crank the hate in their reliable low-info base they’re insulated against their mismanagement.

        2. You know what I’m amazed at? People who argue that the government is more accountable to people than private businesses. I even had a heated argument over that with a self-described anarcho-syndicalist.

  6. But … but … there are cherry-picked anecdata that prove how successful Obamacare is!

    1. “I had cancer but couldn’t pay for treatment because oppression, until Obamacare came along!”

      1. “Now I have cancer, oppression, and really extreme premium payments…”

        “But at least the government cares?”

  7. If you didn’t see this coming, you should just go put on your fucking dunce cap and sit in the damn corner. The overall entire purpose of the ACA is to tax the ever-living shit out of healthier people to subsidize everyone else. It’s almost single payer except the “single payer” is anyone who has an insurance plan but doesn’t use it much.

    This is going to get SO much worse.

    1. This is going to get SO much worse.

      Yes, yes it is. And it will all be blamed on corporate greed. With the exception of a few thinking people, everyone else will buy into the argument that teh rich are immorally profiting off sick people because it feels true.

    2. Yeah, and the fucking GOP better try harder to repeal the shit before that happens, because it they don’t, it’ll be spun as being their fault for not fixing everything.

      1. They’re not going to repeal it. That’s why Obama and crew went to the mat to make it pass. They knew that if it passed it was basically forever.

        The cronyism is locked in now.

        1. This law is having such bad effects, though. Fuck, I don’t know, when does the pain end?

          1. when does the pain end

            Never. As if you didn’t know that.

            1. False, the correct answer is “after the medical care system is done with you”.

    3. Definitely going to get much worse when you take into account that more or less all of the “benefits” of the ACA have gone into effect, but the taxes, penalties, mandates, etc., have largely been delayed or suspended.

    4. It’s almost single payer except the “single payer” is anyone who has an insurance plan but doesn’t use it much.

      Oh, but it is so much worse than even this. Single payer would at least eliminate profits. Profits are usually an incentive for efficiency, but “profit” guaranteed by government is simply an incentive for cronyism.

      We have the worst of both worlds. All the Socialism and crony capitalism at the same time!

      1. Profits are usually an incentive for efficiency

        I wish more people understood this.

        1. To this day I get this argument from people. I have to send them back to the same arguments made during the Cold War when people were saying, “How can Industry X possibly compete with the Soviet’s nationalized economy. The Soviets don’t have to advertise, pay shareholders or compete with other companies. They can spend all their money directly on dealing with the customer’s needs.”

          At first blush, the statement seemed as logical as it sounds today. The problem is no one considers just how much you can innovate in a world of limited resources. Every year when layoffs come around, all my manager colleagues wail about how impossible it will be for them to do function X with reduced headcount. And next year, they will find them getting by just fine- automating where necessary, dropping useless functions, and just getting people in their team to do more with less.

    5. What’re you taking about. Everyone knew the KKKochporashuns would manipulate Obamacare in their favour. Proof that we need single payer.

  8. Self-employed and just got around to doing tax return. In 2013, I deducted $6232 for health insurance. My current insurance premium runs $15000. I’m two years older, so I guess some increase is in order, but this is ridiculous.

    Thanks, Obama!

  9. Double digit rate hikes? Don’t you mean DOUBLE DIGIT MARKET FAILURE!!??



  10. I suspect the GOP is waiting for Burwell v King in June/July to do the heavy lifting for them.

    1. If SCOTUS decides that case the way any sane human being should, then there will be huge pressure on the R’s to “fix” the State vs Federal distinction to prevent the law from changing in any way.

      In other words, just letting the court eviscerate the law won’t be politically viable. The R’s may use the opportunity to try to make some larger changes to the law, but does anyone here actually expect them to change things for the better? Anyone…?

      1. Unfettering the market would require a spine and relinquishing control… so no, I don’t expect the R’s to change things for the better.


        I wish I had the use of the blink tag right about now.

        1. What tags work here? I use blockquote, i, b, a, s, and that’s it. Think I tried a couple others and they didn’t work.

          1. Not much. Pretty much just the ones you listed. In the Before Time, I recall being able to use UL and OL, and I swear that U worked at one time. And, of course, there was the Day of the Commenters, but that doesn’t count. Everything worked for those glorious hours.

          2. ? and ? are the limit of fun.

            1. I wasn’t counting symbols. There’s a decent amount you can do with those, provided that you don’t cross the non-english threshold, whatever that is.

          3. The fuck does do?

            1. Was that an ‘a’? Linky, or SF’d linky as you’ve displayed.

  11. US governments already spend more money per capita — based on total population — than the UK National Health Service does, even though only geezers, indigenous peoples, some veterans, and the poor are covered by government programs in the US. Broad measures of medical outcomes aren’t very much different between the US and the UK.

    The existing magnitude of waste, fraud and abuse in US medical spending must be enormous. Imagine how awful universal single payer or nationalized health in the US would be.

    1. I may be mistaken, but I believe Medicare/Medicaid fraud is estimated to be around $600 billion per year.

      1. $60 billion. Stupid fat fingers

        1. fat fingers

          Chris Christie approves

          *two, fat thumbs up*

      2. It has been well documented that Medicare/Medicaid fraud exceeds the actual profits of for-profit insurance companies. Yet no reporter ever challenged Team Blue with this statistic knowing full well that Obamacare would result in Medicaid expansion.

        Just like insuring 25 percent of the uninsured at $72/k per insured is somehow touted as the success of Obamacare.

    2. Broad measures of medical outcomes aren’t very much different between the US and the UK.

      Wot? US healthcare outcomes are vastly superior to everywhere else.

      1. I’ve been down this argument road before.

        Most of these claims are based on people looking at life expectancy. And of course, Americans tend to die earlier than other citizens, largely because we kill one another and because African Americans have a huge percentage of underweight births and other health problems. When you look at actual health outcomes- i.e. person is diagnosed with cancer and then we followup 5 years later, most statistics show US Citizens to have better outcomes. The problem is these studies are very difficult to do, and there are all sorts of sample bias and apples-to-oranges problems that allow critics to say they don’t count. For example, many critics point to the US’s “wasteful” cancer screenings or the fact that many uninsured might die of cancer without getting into the data set as reasons why such health outcome studies are not valid.

  12. I blame the Republicans for being racist, and the Koch brothers because if it wasn’t for them? no one would know or care about costs exceeding premiums by 61%.

    “As Graham notes, costs for the health plan exceeded premiums by 61 percent in 2014.”

    I’d really like to understand that number better.

    Was the difference covered by the government taxpayers?

    This is “risk corridor” stuff, right? That’s comin’ out of our paychecks?


    1. well, they’re only raising premiums by 26% instead of the 61% or 122% they should.

      1. This model is unsustainable.

        ObamaCare was marketed as a self-sustaining system. It wasn’t supposed to need taxpayer support to make up for the huge losses from writing private policies.

        I’d rather just pay for my own health insurance than pay for my own and everyone else’s through my taxes, thank you.

        Isn’t the outcome where we both make all the sacrifices and insurance premiums and costs keep rising anyway the very worst possible outcome?

  13. The people above who say this can’t be repealed are wrong. Ocare is hated by too many people and benefits too few for it be a political winner. Also, the USG is going to run into a fiscal wall Ocare or no Ocare. This alone will shred a lot of big government.

    1. Well it can’t be repealed so long as there’s a Democrat in the White House, and I don’t trust anyone but Rand Paul to sign the repeal among the Republicans.

      And even if Rand Paul somehow wins the Presidency, I’m not convinced that the Republicans in Congress can bring themselves to repeal it–assuming they somehow manage control of both houses.

      Impossible to repeals as in it’s within the realm of things that are possible? No. Impossible as in there’s no way that’s about to happen? Yeah, it’s impossible like that.

      I’ll give you this: We’ll repeal ObamaCare before we get rid of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, but that isn’t saying much.

      1. I think Cruz would sign it and I think that its such a political stinker that a portion of the Dem political class is going to start agitating against it when fiscal conditions get dire.

    2. Anything can be repealed. The question is will it?

      The fact that everything Obamacare has fallen of the mainstream news cycle and the mainstream GOP is too busy talking about more drones and civil liberties extremists, I put the chances very low.

      Unless of course you mean “replaced by single payer”.

      1. You mean “single preyer?”

        1. Single predator. The one with the dreadlocks and quad-hinged jaw.

          1. When the government preys on the people, is that the will of the people?

      2. Single Payer is not happening. The money isn’t there.

        The fact that everything Obamacare has fallen of the mainstream news cycle and the mainstream GOP is too busy talking about more drones and civil liberties extremists, I put the chances very low.

        Well come on the ‘national conversation’ (barf) has never stayed focused on one subject.

        I think it will be a long grinding and ultimately successful struggle, like getting rid of forced busing.

        1. “Single Payer is not happening. The money isn’t there.”

          With all due respect, I don’t the the money not being there has ever once stayed the government’s hand.

          1. Yeah, the money isn’t there for just about everything our beloved government does these days. I mean, how many trillions does it take in debt before we can’t afford it?

        2. I think a GOP initiative that repealed ACA with tax shelter, private accounts (Like HSAs) and subsidized coverage for the truly needy could make a run at it in a GOP presidency.

          There are a couple problems:
          1) Governments have spent shit tons on these stupid health exchanges, so there is going to be a lot of sunk-cost fallacy going around. Ideally exchanges would be privately owned- we don’t need government exchanges for, say, used goods. Craigslist and Ebay seem to do pretty good there.

          2) Until the rest of the population starts feeling the burn rather than hearing about how shitty the program is, the urgency to repeal and replace won’t be there. A vast percentage of Americans use employer sponsored plans so they don’t directly experience the pains of ACA- even if it is resulting in higher premiums.

        3. Single Payer is not happening. The money isn’t there.

          Matt Welch was saying the money wasn’t there for Obamacare and yet Obama still did it.

    3. “Ocare is hated by too many people and benefits too few for it be a political winner.”

      I wouldn’t be so sure, the only thing (the majority of) Americans like less than paying for a benefit is having that benefit -however minor- taken away.

  14. While I realize that no stone can be left un-thrown, is there any indication that rate increases would have been lower without Obamacare?

    “As Graham notes, costs for the health plan exceeded premiums by 61 percent in 2014.”
    If this is indicative of the health insurance market overall, wouldn’t costs have increased no matter what? Or alternatively would benefits have been reduced to maintain rates?

    1. The “but for” argument? You bet it’s valid. It’s been the at the core of every fight to maintain the government’s regulatory status quo since the dinosaurs roamed the earth.

  15. Talk is California, without State or Fed bailout, could go a 80% raise.

  16. “Or are we seeing what are essentially “teaser” rates…”

    Remove the insurance company bailout provisions and all will be revealed.

  17. Look, it’s quite simple. Get some placards and bullhorns, go to the insurance company headquarters, chant “human need, not corporate greed!” like 10,000 times, then find one of the coeds who came to the demonstration and take her back to your apartment to smoke dope and have sex.

    When you wake up the next morning, all the problems with the health-care system will have been solved.

    Just in time, too, because it’s going to start hurting when you pee.

  18. My best friend’s mother-in-law makes $85 /hour on the internet . She has been out of work for 5 months but last month her pay was $16453 just working on the internet for a few hours.
    Visit this website ????? http://www.jobsfish.com

  19. I think it’s intellectually dishonest to cherry-pick some places where premium rates have increased the most. For a time pre-Obama, I negotiated labor contracts in Connecticut and rates in some insurance pools regularly increased by 20%, 30% or more from one year to the next. In my opinion, the ACA is horrendous because the Democrats gave the pharma and insurance companies what they wanted to get their donation dollars rolling in.

    1. The promise was to bend the cost curve.

      Where’s my $2,500?

      That’s the benchmark THEY set.

  20. Cool. Another mandated government program that was ill thought out and costs too much. Do I see a pattern developing here? If you like your government you can keep your government. However, if we despise the crap put out by these mindless do- gooders lets vote them out. Demand that congress actually do what it is Constitutuionally supposed to do. Voters? Voters? Hello!!!

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