Health Care Choices and Premiums

Health Care Choices and Premiums

What’s Going On in the States

Health care remains a major focus of the public discussion as premium prices rise and choices dwindle. Throughout the summer and into the fall, Obamacare insurers will announce decisions about the prices they want to charge and plans they want to offer next year, submitting them to regulators for review and approval.

Why are premiums increasing so much?

Research shows prices have been rising steadily—while choices have been falling—since Obamacare was first implemented, more than doubling in some places because of its failed policies and regulations.

Average premiums for individual insurance rose 105% in the first 4 years after Obamacare took effect—from $232 to $476 per person, per month. Moreover, Obamacare is forcing people to pay more for less.In more than half of U.S. counties, Obamacare exchange customers have a “choice” of only one insurer. Networks are narrower, and access to doctors and hospitals is limited. The results include: fewer people had individual policies in December 2017 than in 2014, the first year in which Obamacare took full effect; and the number of small firms offering health benefits to their workers dropped by 24% between 2012 and 2016.

What is being done to lower costs and increase choices?

States, the Trump Administration and private innovators are doing what they can in the constraints of current law. States are seeking federal waivers from Obamacare rules - that’s why prices actually dropped last year in states like Alaska. The Trump administration is using regulatory authority to give people more affordable choices, including expanding Association Health Plans to help small businesses and the self-employed and lifting Obama-era restrictions on short-term limited duration policies. And private innovators are creating new health delivery models, like direct primary care.

However, there are limits to how much can be done under the existing structure of Obamacare. Its heavy mandates and flawed subsidy structure drive up costs and reduce choices while pouring millions onto government-run Medicaid instead of private insurance.

How can Congress lower costs and improve choices?

The best way to provide relief for Americans struggling under these heavy burdens is to replace Obamacare with free-market solutions that put patients and doctors—not federal bureaucrats—in charge of health care decisions and dollars. Conservatives have recommended solutions to do just that. As a first step, Congress should return to address this problem through the Health Care Choices Proposal.