The recent announcement that the costs of Obamacare are expected to increase significantly in the coming year has some people worried. Initially, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was meant to make insurance affordable for millions of Americans. However, since its launch, insurance costs have slowly increased.
In order to offset the small increases in premiums, the federal government increased the subsidy amounts qualified people received. Unfortunately, this was only a “Band-Aid” that did not address the underlying problems with the program. As a result, lobbying firms and lobbyists are pushing for reforms to Obamacare in efforts to encourage improvements within the program, while at the same time addressing the increase in insurance premiums.
Another problem with the current ACA system is each state was tasked with providing plans and coverage through various providers. As a result, providers in every state are able to set the costs for coverage. For instance, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) is proposing a 50% increase in premiums in New Mexico for 2017. Yet, in other states, BCBS premium increases are not expected to be as significant, though BCBS has proposed a 30% increase in four other states.
Lobbyists working for insurance companies state the reasons for the increased premiums is largely due to having access to better data about the types of illnesses and services people require, which they did not have prior to the start of the ACA. With more people seeking healthcare services, healthcare providers have also increased the rates they charge to offset the allowable amounts most plans provide.
For example, a typical office visit to an in-network provider was billed at $75 to a patient’s insurance a few years ago. Today, regular office visit rates are now $150 or more, depending on where the patient resides. Even though providers rarely get the full amount they bill for office visits, allowable limits have crept up, too.
Further fueling the increased insurance premiums are the drastic increases in prescription medications. Pharmaceutical companies have significantly ramped up the costs for a wide range of medications in recent years. While an insured person does not notice this increase, as their co-pay may have only changed a few dollars, the insurance companies are being hit with paying the increased costs.
For instance, if a prescription previously cost $150 a month before Obamacare, it is not uncommon to see that same medication being billed to insurance companies by as much as $400 for a 30-day supply. It is for these reasons and others that reforms are needed—and quickly.
Obtaining the necessary reforms and modifications to the ACA could prove challenging in the current Republican-controlled congress. Many Republicans have decided they do not intend to take action on any reforms until after the election on November 8th since Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump has stated on numerous occasions, if elected, he plans on dismantling Obamacare.
However, at least for 2017, President Obama is pushing for increased tax credits to help offset the latest premium increases, pending potential reforms to the ACA before 2018.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Obamacare pending the outcome of the presidential election. In the meantime, for assistance with lobbying efforts, and to ensure your voice and that of your business is heard, contact the experienced lobbyists at Lobbyit today at 202.587.2736.