It is shaping up to be another year of double-digit premium increases for Obamacare health insurance plans, but this time insurers are clearly spelling out who's to blame for their sky-high 2018 rate requests.
"In most of the country, the market would be stable if not for significant uncertainty about what the (President Donald) Trump administration will do," said Larry Levitt, senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The Trump administration is now holding all the cards, when it comes to making this year's open enrollment go smoothly, after Republicans in the Congress failed to pass a plan to replace Obamacare. And so far, the health department and the White House are playing it close to the vest.
"Virtually every insurer cites policy uncertainty as a factor in premium increases, and where insurers quantify the uncertainty it's often upwards of half the premium increase," he said.
The administration countered that double-digit increases are not new when it comes to annual Obamacare premium prices, and that the problem is the Affordable Care Act itself.
"Last year alone, Obamacare premiums surged by 25 percent and 83 insurers abandoned the exchanges. Since Obamacare went into effect under the previous administration, skyrocketing healthcare costs and fewer choices have become the norm," said Alleigh Marré, national spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services. "This analysis confirms what we already knew — Obamacare is flawed, failing, and harming the American people. "
The insurers, however, have outlined three key factors that are driving rate increases for next year, according to an analysis of initial 2018 rate filings in the top 21 insurance markets by researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Here's how the uncertainty is adding up to higher prices:
No Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) subsidies: 13 to 20 percent
Insurers still don't know whether the Trump administration will pay for cost-sharing reduction subsidies; payments which insurers are required to make under the current law to lower out-of-pocket costs for some 7 million low-cost exchange enrollees.