If you live in Delaware and pay for health insurance, you will be paying hundreds or thousands of dollars more once 2016 arrives. Health premiums are set to rise by leaps and bounds next year, meaning less money in your pocket. Because CRI is committed to informing citizens about the impacts of the decisions the government makes, we took a look to see how the proposed rate rises are really going to affect you.
There are essentially two companies that provide health insurance in Delaware: Aetna and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. Both submitted requests for rate increases for their individual health insurance plans for 2016, ranging from 16% to more than 25%. You can find the posted rate increases here. These requests are astounding, especially when converted into the dollar amount increases that will be faced by individual customers.
For example, our research shows that a 55-year-old resident carrying a silver EPO from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, a popular plan in Delaware, can expect to pay an additional $114 every month; that comes out to a nearly $1,400 increase in annual health insurance costs. Alternatively, a person in their mid-twenties, who may have forgone health insurance before the imposition of the tax penalty, will be faced with additional annual expenses of at least $400, even if they are only purchasing the cheaper bronze or catastrophic plans.
This situation is in sharp contrast to the promises of the politicians that "costs will go down for everyone." The faulty logic behind the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was that forcing more people onto the health insurance rolls, especially healthier, younger individuals, would spread out healthcare costs and reduce premiums for everyone, but in particular older and less healthy people. As these requested rates show, this is simply not the case, and now all Delaware residents on these exchange-bought plans face sharp price increases. The full costs of the law were not properly taken into account by its architects and supporters.
Despite claims made by federal and state officials, rapidly rising healthcare premiums are now reality as a direct result of consequences stemming from ACA. Citizens who are not eligible for a government-provided healthcare plan such as Medicare, Medicaid, or Tricare no longer have the option to refuse to purchase an insurance policy without facing a hefty penalty. The law has created a captive market, removing a consumer’s most basic right to choose what he or she buys. Now everyone not eligible to receive government-funded health insurance is at the mercy of the insurance companies and these dramatic rate increases.
As pointed out in our critique of Delaware's proposed "Choose Health Delaware" plan, top-down approaches to healthcare concentrate too much power for a small cadre of insurance companies, regional hospitals, and government bureaucrats, and reduces the power and incentive of individuals to control their healthcare decisions and costs. Laws like ACA stifle the free-market, hamper economic growth, and lead to a lower standard of living and less freedom for all Americans.