New season of Obamacare will begin with Higher Prices

Obamacare 4.0 enrollment opens on Tuesday in individual health insurance plans. Millions will face higher prices and fewer insurers to choose from. People that need an individual health plan, Medicare or Medicaid will have until January 31st, 2017 to sign up to avoid tax penalties for failing to have coverage.

“We’ve certainly seen pretty significant premium increases this year, as many insurance carriers exit or significantly scale back participation,” said Elizabeth Carpenter, senior vice president of the Avalere Health consultancy. Over 1 million consumers will have to choose a new insurance carrier due to their current insurer exiting Obamacare exchanges, Carpenter said. The exchanges opened for business in 2013, the largest one, federal marketplace healthcare.gov had crashed on launch and struggling for over a month to enroll enough people. Healthcare.gov serves residents of 39 states and is running smooth.

Healthcare insurers want healthier customers to sign up to reduce the costs of less-healthy customers. “Certainly, if you aren’t getting a tax credit subsidy in the individual market, you are likely to face the significant premium increases, depending on where you live,” Carpenter said.

Karen Pollitz, senior of the Kaiser Family Foundation, stated that the initial wave of millions of people signing up for Obamacare included many that have pressing health needs, priced out individuals as well. Kaiser research estimate that out of 27 million non-elderly individuals who lacked health coverage, almost 12 million were eligible for Medicaid or subsidized Obamacare coverage.

“I think the challenge continues” to reach those people, Pollitz said. “Some people don’t have Internet, they don’t speak English, and they don’t read the Federal Register.” “Or they don’t realize this is the time to sign up,” she said. Kaiser’s polls have repeatedly found many eligible for coverage are not aware of deadlines for signing up.  

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