Affordable Care Act rates increase in 2017

The insurer plans to increase the rates for Affordable Care Act plans by an average of 24.3 percent in 2017. This follows a May filing in which Blue Cross Blue Shield estimated the plans would increase by an average of 18.8 percent.

Brian Tajlili, director of actuarial and pricing services for Blue Cross Blue Shield of N.C., said in a statement the rate increase is due to rising costs of medical care.

 “On average, ACA customers tend to require more medical services than most other customers, and have more chronic conditions that are costly to treat,” he said.

Tajlili said the lack of young, healthy people enrolled in Affordable Care Act plans fails to balance out the price of higher-cost customers.

The statement also said about 72 percent of Blue Cross Blue Shield of N.C. customers with ACA plans will pay either less or the same for their insurance due to the act’s federal subsidy program.

The rate increase follows insurer Aetna’s decision to suspend their 2017 ACA plans in North Carolina. Tajlili said Blue Cross Blue Shield, as the only insurer in North Carolina, estimates they will enroll 260,000 people who were dropped by other insurers.

Larry Levitt, senior vice president for special initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Gary Claxton, vice president for the foundation, said in a statement released in May insurers had been warning of cost pressures increasing and therefore health plan rate increases might be higher in 2017 than the previous year.

Blue Cross Blue Shield has also faced problems related to its customer handling. The insurer is currently under investigation by the N.C. Department of Insurance due to a large volume of complaints about insurer issues.

“I’m going to hold Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina accountable for fixing its problems and doing right by consumers,” Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin said in a statement released in February.

Presidential candidates have used rate increases to show the ACA needs to be fixed.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said in a rally in Fletcher, N.C. Friday “Obamacare” is failing and he would repeal and replace it. In a statement on his website, he said he would provide block grant Medicaid to the states for health care.

Hillary Clinton said in a statement on her website she would defend the ACA as president, and would attempt to bring down co-pays and deductible costs by reducing costs of health care.

Tajlili said the current plan is not viable in the long term on the current path.

“We must continue to seek improvements to the ACA to make it more sustainable.”

By Ari Sen

@ArijitDSen

state@dailytarheel.com

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