The state’s largest healthcare provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield, is planning a 22.9% rate increase because of Trump’s desire to repeal the ACA and other healthcare providers, like Cigna, are following in their footsteps. However, if Congress decides to keep Obamacare through 2018, BCBS will only increase their rates by 8.8%. The uncertainty of the future of health care in America is leading BCBS to the huge rate increase, all because of Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress.
The insurers filed their requests with the N.C. Department of Insurance on Thursday. The agency will review the applications and issue decisions in late summer or early fall. Blue Cross, the only health insurer offering ACA plans in all 100 North Carolina counties, insures around 502,000 people in the state through the federal exchange.
Because 94 percent of Blue Cross’s customers in the state qualify for a federal subsidy to offset the cost of their monthly premiums, most customers will not feel the full brunt of the rate increase. The subsidies are available on a sliding scale based on household income, with the lowest incomes qualifying for the most generous subsidies.
However, Blue Cross said its rate increase proposal would be 8.8 percent if Congress continued fully funding the ACA in 2018. So far, Republicans in Congress have debated how to dismantle the law and replace it with a less costly alternative.
On Wednesday the Congressional Budget Office said the Republican proposal would eliminate coverage for 23 million Americans in 2026. The Center for American Progress estimated Thursday that 1.3 million North Carolinians would lose coverage by 2026.
“Many ACA customers will pay more for coverage that is already a large portion of their household income,” said Brian Tajlili, Blue Cross’s director of actuarial and pricing services. “We must ensure the smoothest transition possible without jeopardizing access to health insurance and care in 2018.”
Speaking in a conference call with reporters, Tajlili said that ACA rates continue climbing in part because customers who sign up for federally subsidized health insurance are older and sicker than the general population. Around the country, some insurers have filed for even larger rate increases, including 52 percent in Maryland by CareFirst and 38 percent in Virginia by Anthem, according to The Washington Post.