Virginia and Maryland have just made public health insurance company requests for 2019 premium increases under the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare), and the results are shocking.
Health insurers in both states want double-digit increases in monthly premiums for individual medical plans. CareFirst, for example, wants to nearly double the amount it charges on average for coverage in Maryland, and increase the cost in Virginia by 64 percent.
The health insurance companies are saying that President Trump and Congressional Republicans are to blame for the outrageous increases because they eliminated the individual mandates from the ACA. As a result healthy people are not buying insurance, and more sick people are entering the ACA marketplace, driving costs sky-high.
“Cigna said it anticipates sicker people will be entering the market this year because of the repeal of the individual mandate, which required people to buy insurance or face a tax penalty,” the Hill reported. “The insurer also cited anticipated changes to regulations involving short-term plans and association health plans as the reason for the premium increases.”
These premium spikes are the intentional result of Republican sabotage of Obamacare which Congress passed and Trump signed in 2017. This occurred after their “repeal and replace” attempts failed. The GOP strategy was to make health insurance unaffordable under Obamacare, so voters would blame Democrats for passing the healthcare law in the first place.
Virginia Democrats were quick to denounce the premiums spikes as the direct and obvious effects of the GOP’s relentless campaign to make health care more expensive for Americans. State Rep. Don Beyer wrote on Twitter:
“Trump health Secretary Tom Price *predicted* that this would happen, but he and other Republican leaders still took actions that will drive up premiums anyway. Sabotage of the worst kind, which will hit average people in Virginia hard. And it won’t just be in Virginia either.”
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine wrote on Facebook, “Let’s be clear what this is: a painful consequence of the Trump Administration’s efforts to sabotage the health insurance market and dismantle the Affordable Care Act.”
In Maryland, CareFirst wants to raise rates by 91 percent Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer Jr. said. If approved, premiums for a 40-year-old would be $1,334 a month.
“We have folks in Maryland that are struggling, that are trying to do the right thing, and they’re paying more for their health insurance than they are for their mortgage,” Redmer said on a call. “I believe we’ve been in a death spiral for a year or two.”
According to Redmer and other knowledgeable people in the health insurance field, Congress must pass a solution to fix the Affordable Care Act. Until that happens Americans will be paying astronomical prices for their health insurance, thanks to the Republicans in Congress and President Trump.
Healthcare is the #1 issue in 2018, and these big premium increases give voters even more reason to vote for Democrats in this year’s midterm elections.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.
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